Big Data, Big Issues: Should We Be Worried?

Feb 15, 2017

Join three of our newest Killam professors and world-leading scientists Dr. Sally Otto, Dr. Loren Rieseberg and Dr. Robert Hancock in a discussion on the impact and implications of big data and genomics within their fields. A University Killam Professorship is the highest honour UBC can confer on a faculty member and recognizes exceptional teachers and researchers who are leaders in their fields.

Scientific innovation is accelerating at a breathtaking rate, with big data and related disciplines such as genomics opening up new possibilities in areas including health, sustainability and the environment.

As advances are made though, as a population, are we even aware of the types of moral, ethical and scientific questions that we should be asking?

What we can do now, what we will be able to do, and what we should do with these technologies? Some of the issues to be considered include those surrounding gene editing, such as the ability to quickly change the prevalence of certain genes in populations enabled by the CRISPR-Cas9 technology, and the potential for reducing disease genes in humans or introducing new traits into other populations. This could prevent the spread of malaria through mosquitoes and make animals resistant to certain types of disease, but what are the bigger implications of such gene manipulation? Also, what is the role of genomics in securing food supply, and should it be seen in conflict or in support of “green” issues? What happens if we’ve already discovered the last antibiotic? And can big data be the savior of or even generate fundamental scientific breakthroughs?

Join us for a thought-provoking series of presentations and panel-discussion, moderated by Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, Chief Scientific Officer & Vice President, Sector Development, Genome BC.

This series is presented by UBC’s Office of the VP Research and Office of the VP Academic in partnership with the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies and alumni UBC.