PHG Foundation evidence to Commons Genomics and Genome Editing Inquiry

15 May 2017

Watch the evidence session here*

PHG Foundation has given evidence at a second oral evidence session for the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee’s inquiry on genomics and genome editing.

With Genomics England’s ambitious 100,000 Genomes Project due to complete sequencing by the close of 2017 and the findings of a Nuffield Council of Bioethics ethical review on genome editing published in September 2016, the Committee launched the genomics inquiry in November 2016. 

Written evidence from the PHG Foundation was submitted in January 2017. In February this year, due to the great breadth of material to be covered, the inquiry was split to consider applications in human health separately from those affecting plants, animals and ecosystems, with human health to be examined first.

PHG Foundation’s Head of Humanities Alison Hall, an expert in legal, regulatory and ethical issues who is also the current chair of the British Society for Genetic Medicine (BSGM) Ethics and Policy Committee, gave oral evidence to the committee, ahead of which she commented: 

Genomics has potential to transform healthcare through increased personalisation which could help to ensure better, safer care. As the NHS moves to facilitate this transformation through modernising existing services and embedding the 100,000 Genomes Project into practice, the PHG Foundation welcomes this detailed scrutiny from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Of the range of issues that merit prompt attention, promoting effective genetic and genomic data sharing within the NHS, supported by proportionate security measures and appropriate consent would help deliver the greatest health benefit for patients. 

The committee has been considering the impact of genomics and genome editing on human health and the associated regulatory, ethical, social and safety implications. In addition, the Committee is scrutinising the progress of the 100,000 Genomes project, the adequacy (or otherwise) of investment in NHS infrastructure and workforce skills and training for genomic medicine, and the extent to which genomics should form part of the forthcoming Industrial Strategy.

The evidence session considered the ethical and data implications of genomics and the 100,000 Genomes Project. Besides Alison Hall of the PHG Foundation, witnesses included Prof Michael Parker (Chair of the Genomics England Ethics Advisory Committee) and Prof Mike Stratton (Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute), amongst others. 

Alison Hall is available for comment and interview on request via our media office.

*This news piece was updated after the evidence session to include link to video of the session