The Nuffield Council on Bioethics and the Ada Lovelace Institute will be working together on a new project on AI and genomics futures.

The convergence of AI and genomics technologies is poised to have a significant impact on medical research, healthcare and societies across the globe. Together these technologies could, in future, create novel research techniques, enable more accurate predictions to be made about a person’s health, perhaps from birth, and create personalised treatments and therapies.

In its 10-year genomics healthcare strategy, the UK Government has committed to understanding, through the use of machine learning and AI, how genomically informed healthcare and prevention could be improved and how these could be implemented in the NHS. The implications of research in this area are likely to extend beyond healthcare, for example to education and criminal justice.

Research and collaboration on genomics and AI is taking place across a number of sectors within health research and AI tech development. These varied sectors often operate within different work cultures and, in some cases, under different governance and ethical frameworks.

In addition, there are gaps in knowledge about where research at the intersection of AI and genomics is taking place and the topics that are being investigated. An understanding of these factors could help identify possible future trends and the applications it could lead to (both health and non-health).

We will investigate these factors to develop a clearer picture of possible future trends, which will allow us to consider the potential ethical and social issues that they raise. We will use these insights to inform decision makers as they prepare for future scenarios of genomics and AI technologies.

Danielle Hamm, Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, said:

We look forward to working with the Ada Lovelace Institute to facilitate conversations between researchers and practitioners working at the intersection of AI and genomics. This will enable us to explore, through the lens of ethics, the horizons and potential opportunities of this ground-breaking field of research.”

Carly Kind, Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute, said:

“We’re extremely excited to work with the Nuffield Council on Bioethics to explore the future implications of AI and genomics research. Our hope is this project will help policymakers and practitioners anticipate future opportunities and risks that may arise from the convergence of these fields.”

The Ada Lovelace is hiring a researcher on a 24-month contract to work on this exciting project. Find out more about this role here. The application deadline is 25 August 2021.

This project forms part of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ horizon scanning programme, which aims to identify emerging developments and issues in biological and medical research. Our horizon scanning activities inform all areas of the Council’s work, as well as that of other individuals and organisations with an interest in bioethics.