Our Personal Genome and the DNA Dilemma

March 4th, 2014 by Comment button No Comments »


The Canadian Club of Halton Peel is currently celebrating their 28th season of presenting guest dinner speakers on a wide range of subjects. Since 1986 the not-for-profit, volunteer-driven Canadian Club of Halton Peel has met monthly for delicious dinners, extremely knowledgeable and fascinating speakers and the opportunity to share an evening with friends. Dr. Pierre Meulien, PhD, President & CEO, Genome Canada, was recently hosted at the Oakville Conference Centre – his topic was “Our Personal Genome – The DNA Dilemma.”

A little over 3 years ago, Pierre was appointed President and CEO of Genome Canada which was established in 2000 and whose mission is “To harness the transformative power of genomics to deliver benefits to Canadians”. From 2007 to 2010, he was Chief Scientific Officer for Genome British Columbia. During this time, he facilitated the translation of genome-based technologies into end uses across many life science sectors.

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A few facts about Genomes. Genomes are made out of DNA which contain the “code of life’. Our ability to read this code has been revolutionized over the past decade. Every organism on earth has an ID – a genome. The first human genome took 10 years and $3 billion to decipher. Now that it can be done in 2 days at a cost of only $3,000, genomics will have profound impacts including:

• How we view our own personal health and well-being
• How we produce food and ensure its safety
• How we monitor our environment and sustain precious natural resources

In addition to discussing the importance of Canadian genomic research in sectors such as health, agriculture, environment, forestry and fisheries, Dr. Meulien also addressed privacy issues arising from the sequencing of the human genome.People are accepting and even embracing the genomes projects. The Personal Genome Project at Harvard has 15,000 people who have signed up to have their genomes read and shared with the world.

Interestingly, the human body has 100 trillion microscopic life forms living in it. The genome reads it all. According to Dr. Pierre Meulien, “The Human Genome Project remains an essential and game changing initiative that paves the way to revolutionizing many aspects of our lives”.

Dr. Meulien also remarked that “climate change is the biggest driver to genome changes”. What can our genome tell us about our health? Dr. Meulien says that Genomics works for identifying both rare and common diseases and that the technology can deliver real value to patients with common disorders. He feels the genome technology has demonstrated that “integrating the technology within the healthcare system will be cost effective”.

Seventeen projects were funded in 2013 and the integration into the healthcare system has begun. Dr. Meulien feels that there is a need to introduce and integrate these new technologies into society in a responsible way. Biology is central to many of the challenges that mankind is facing – Biology will be the revolution of the 21st century.
Join the Canadian Club of Halton Peel on Thursday March 20th 2014 to hear Tilda Shalof, Critical Care Nurse in the Medical-Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Toronto General Hospital, whose remarks are titled “Essential Tips You Need to Know About Being a Patient”

Reservations for the dinner can be made by e-mail (barrywylie1@gmail.com), by telephone (905-827-6302) or by mail (cheques payable to The Canadian Club of Halton Peel, 283 River Side Drive, Oakville, L6K 3N3).

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About the author: Janet Bedford

A Real Estate Broker with Royal LePage Real Estate Services on Lakeshore Road in Oakville, I have 25 years of helping clients realize their dreams, specializing in helping my clients buy and sell homes in the Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, Ancaster, Dundas and the Grimsby areas. I love Oakville, its people and the exciting events I cover! My hobby, a passion, is taking pictures, writing articles and telling the world about the people, the businesses, the events, the places to visit and about this amazing Town - Oakville!

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