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Biotechnology and genomic technologies


Emerging Biotechnologies - Hype, Hope and Hard Reality, 5-6 November 2015

EMBO | EMBL Science & Society conference

The conference focussed on the impacts of the life sciences on society through the development of biotechnology-based products for human health and the environment. The multidisciplinary and international group of speakers presented some of the most promising biotechnologies and their potential applications in these areas. They also discusses the ethical, economic and potential safety issues that might arise both in the research leading to these technologies, and in the wide use of the technologies themselves.

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ESF-supported Workshop on the Use of non-anonymized human genome sequence in research: Science and policy, 10-11 December 2014, EMBO, Heidelberg

This by-invitation workshop focussed on the use of human genome data intentionally made identifiable for research or other purposes. The international and interdisciplinary group of expert participants evaluated current knowledge and identify research and governance needs with respect to both the science and policy in this area. This is an important emerging issue and we intend to produce information and material relevant for decision makers.

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EMBO | EMBL Science & Society conference Personal and Public Health – Genomics, Medicine and Society, 7-8 November 2013

The 14th conference in the Science & Society conference series focussed on how the use of genomic information may benefit individual and public health. The conference speakers presented the status of genetic and genomic research and discussed the ethical, legal, economic and societal implications as well as the practical challenges of implementing the new knowledge into medical care. 

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Visit the conference website for details on the programme.


ESF-supported Workshop on the Biological Containment of Synthetic Microorganisms: Science and Policy, 13-14 November 2012, EMBL, Heidelberg

This by-invitation workshop focussed on the containment of synthetic microorganisms and addressed three major questions: First, what potential risks to the environment are presented by the intentional release of genetically synthetic microorganisms? Second, what mechanisms can be employed to control these microorganisms in the environment? Finally, what are the parameters for risk assessment of these novel microorganisms? 


The international and interdisciplinary experts evaluated current knowledge and identify research needs in these areas for science and policy. Biological control is an emerging issue in Europe and this meeting started discussions between experts and stakeholders.

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Stem cells

An international group of leading stem cell researchers has issued a statement that specifies concerns about the development and use of unproven stem cell therapies. The commentary is published online in The EMBO Journal ahead of a debate in the Italian parliament on whether to change a recent law that allows certain untested stem cell therapies to be used by the public health system. Read the paper: doi: 10.1038/emboj.2013.114