September 3, 2020 2:30 - 4:00
Location: Auditorium 28A
What determines who we are? The understanding of what determines the identity of all living beings and at the same time their diversity has always been one of the problems that have fascinated mankind and perhaps now as never before we are close to understanding it. But to get where we are we have had to travel a long road full of obstacles that we have overcome thanks to science and technology. (Genetics as science was born without any knowledge of what the underlying genetic material could be and without any technology that could help its progress). Today our ability to produce DNA sequences has considerably exceeded our ability to give biological meaning to these sequences and technology is no longer in sync with science, because at this point genetics is lagging behind and is chasing technological progress. When the first sequencing of the entire human genome was completed in 2001, we thought that the key to solving many of the mysteries of biology had finally been found. But it soon became clear that knowing the entire DNA sequence is not enough to understand either the processes that keep us alive or those that make us sick. We now know that there is still much to learn about how the information contained in our DNA is used and how our genome works. And there is also much to be decided on how to manage and make this information available to everyone, scientists and non-scientists alike, so as to maximise its usefulness for the good of society as a whole.