Primer for the Age of Polygenic Screening, Present and Future

Fergus Fettes

Polygenic Screening dropped without a bang in 2020. In this short technical primer, I go over the current state of the art in polygenic screening, and outline some of the potentialities for the future.
Stage 4

Polygenic screening is here. The space of human genetics is being converted into bits, and this information is being bought and sold on an open market.

This 25-minute talk will cover the technical state of the art in human screening, and outline future possibilities.

Part 1: Polygenic Screening Primer

  • An overview of the current state of the art in human screening -
  • The difference between monogenic and polygenic traits and their inheritance patterns 
  • A discussion of 21 commonly tested-for diseases and their risk correlations
  • The impact of screening on 'designer babies' and the legality, prevalence, and price of these screenings in Europe

Part 2: The Future

  • The role of animal breeding techniques in shaping the future of medicine 
  • A look at current widely used techniques, such as In Vitro Embryo Production, Cloning, and Germline Editing (e.g., with CRISPR)
  • An overview of potential breakthroughs in synthetic biology and synthetic morphology

DISCLAIMER: I do not intend to talk about any of the following: eugenics, sexism, ableism, racism. The reason I want to give this talk is exactly because these issues are so difficult, and because we are walking into a new reality with our eyes closed. But I am sensitive to the complexity of these topics, and will avoid inflaming any unproductive conversation. There will be a 5 minute QnA.

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