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How much modern genetics should be learnt in school?

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Wellcome Trust Blog

Science moves so quickly that it would be impossible to alter GCSE and A level courses to include each and every discovery. But occasionally, new knowledge emerges that could be considered ‘game-changing’, requiring special consideration. Is modern genetics an example of a game-changer, and if so, what can be done to prepare future citizens for its applications, ask Peter Finegold and Matthew Hickman.

Genome sequencing is one technology that has already had a marked effect on the way bioscience research is done, and promises to alter our experience of healthcare in the future. Views expressed by crystal ball gazers have been caricatured at the extremes; either as head-in-the-clouds or head-in-the-sand. The loftier visionaries predict a utopia in which detailed DNA knowledge of individuals and populations will prevent some illnesses from developing and turn other, lethal conditions into ones that can be treated and lived with. Meanwhile the ‘ostriches’ fear that cheap…

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