CESAGen, the Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, will be officially opened at the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, UK, by Wales's First Minister, Rhodri Morgan AM.
The Centre, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, will research issues such as economics and innovation, ethics and regulation, and risk and responsibility in relation to genomics - the study of DNA, which is the genetic blueprint for all living species.
CESAGen is an example of a highly successful collaboration between several institutions, including Cardiff University, The University of Wales College of Medicine, and Techniquest, the hands-on science education centre, and is itself a collaborative venture between Cardiff and Lancaster Universities. It represents a significant success for Cardiff University in securing major new research funding for Wales.
The Centre has close links with the Wales Gene Park and shares several key individuals. Like the Gene Park, CESAGen reflects the combined strengths of research in Cardiff, and in Wales more widely. These provide a critical mass of research in medical sciences and biosciences, and also in the close and productive interdisciplinary relationships between bioscientists, clinicians and social scientists.
Professor Paul Atkinson will head the Cardiff-based centre as Associate Director of CESAGen. "Issues such as genetic testing, genetic screening and the diagnosis of genetic diseases are seldom far from the headlines," he said. "There is enormous investment in these new biotechnologies, and it is vital that we understand the social and economic impact of this investment.
"The wealth of expertise in Cardiff will enable Wales to move to the forefront of this important field of study.
"The recent Department of Health White Paper on genetic services highlights the significance of new technologies, such as population screening for genetic conditions," he added. "It is therefore vital that research on the personal, social and ethical consequences of such major new investments in health care are understood."
Researchers in CESAGen will be working closely with bioscientists, such as Professor Martin Evans and his colleagues in the School of Biosciences and collaborators at The University of Wales College of Medicine on stem cells and their potential for medical treatment. They will be studying the development of these new technologies, their application in clinical settings, and the public understanding of such new science.
CESAGen will be officially opened by the First Minister Rhodri Morgan AM at the School of Social Sciences, Glamorgan Building, Cardiff University, on Monday September 15th.