medicine. Precision medicine.
Individualised medicine. Customised medicine. Targeted medicine. Even bespoke
buzzwords of recent years that equally excite, confuse and infuriate the
public, researchers and healthcare professionals. What does it all mean, and
why should you care?
Broadly speaking, these terms all refer to the idea of tailoring
treatment to individual patients based on their genetic code. But is this
actually happening, and what are the consequences of this shift in thinking?
The last 10 years have yielded significant and rapid advances in our
understanding of the human genome. The impact on human health and clinical practice is already being widely felt.
This course will discuss both
the benefits and controversies surrounding the genetic
revolution as it relates to modern medicine and its impact on society.
The promise of personalised medicine will likely yield significant benefits for
patients, yet raises a number of serious ethical and legal issues for health
professionals, patients and the community.
You will learn how genetic testing is currently used to guide
treatment across diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative
diseases and mental health, and infectious disease. You will also explore the power of genetics to impact disease prevention and diagnosis, and
the social, legal, political and ethical implications of this new knowledge.
Module One: We begin by discussing what causes disease and development of personal traits – our genes or our
environment? We will also explore how genes are passed from one generation to
the next, and basic medical genetics.
Module Two: We will discuss how recent technological and scientific advances have heralded
the advent of the genetic revolution, and the global approach and impact of
Module Three: We will explore the concept of risk, and
multifactorial disease. We will describe examples of genes that pre-dispose
patients to specific diseases, and discuss genetic testing and genetic
Module Four: We will investigate the use of personalised medicine
today, and tease out the reality from the hype.
We will also explore the apparent delay between research findings and
translation to the clinic (“bench to bedside”), and the reasons for this.
We will describe the rationale of medical patents, clinical trials, drug
approval and regulation, and how these differ in various parts of the world.
We will analyse and reflect on how research and drug developments in
personalised medicine are presented in the media, and the effect this may have
on patients, policy & society both locally and globally.
We will explore and debate the legal,
religious, cultural and societal issues surrounding personalised medicine.
We will integrate what we have learnt in modules 1-7 in order to understand the potential and pitfalls of
personalised medicine in our own specific discipline and cultural
Caroline Ford, Orin Chisholm, Sheri Nixdorf and Rachel Williams