Scientific Progress or Dangerous Territory? Birmingham Women's Hospital Has Been at the Centre of Genetics Research and Development for a Number of Years. Health Correspondent Sophie Blakemore Takes a Look at the Work Going on Behind Closed Doors
Byline: Sophie Blakemore
Groundbreaking research with the potential to radically transform the prevention and treatment of a whole range of illnesses for future generations is at the heart of Birmingham Women's Hospital's world-renowned genetics unit.
Professors, doctors and research fellows -many of whom are affiliated to the University of Birmingham -are forging ahead with genetic breakthroughs which could help cure or prevent some of the most deadly human diseases.
The unit is the second largest of its kind in Europe and the majority of the experts working on life-saving projects, including Professor Peter Farndon, are known internationally.
For the past five years, it has been at the forefront of much of the pioneering developments in genetics.
Now its expertise has been recognised by the Department of Health which today announced pounds 1.8 million funding for an education and development centre at the hospital to broaden understanding of the complex issue of genetics among NHS staff.
The genetics revolution is rapidly gathering pace, and with it comes massive implications for health care and a glimmer of hope in the fight against killer diseases.
Essentially, genetics will enable medicine to go one step further than is currently possible.
Instead of merely diagnosing and treating illness, doctors will be able to identify each patient's risk of falling ill by looking at an individual's genetic make-up.
Doctors will know who is most likely to develop a hereditary illness or have a severely disabled baby and take measures to eradicate that risk before the disease develops or the child is born. …