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Making Babies in the 21st Century

Discover the opportunities provided by reproductive technologies and fertility treatments – and the ethical challenges they pose.

Making Babies in the 21st Century
  • Duration6 weeks
  • Weekly study2 hours

Explore how assisted reproduction is impacting baby-making in the 21st century

Following the journey of someone making use of technology to conceive, this course will take you through six different areas of assisted reproduction, as well as the science behind them and its impact.

As you explore human reproduction in the age of technology, you’ll explore the social, ethical, and legal challenges of powerful new genetic techniques creating new opportunities in the field of reproduction.

Learning with experts at UCL’s Institute for Women’s Health, you’ll explore how technology is changing the way babies are made and family life is constructed, appreciate the key ethical dilemmas that these new technologies bring, and gain awareness of the social aspects of the relevant ethical challenges.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsWelcome to Making Babies in the 21st Century.

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsThis course explores the new technologies in assisted fertility and looks at the impact they're having on individuals and couples, as well as society in general. My name is Dan Reisel and I work at the Institute for Women's Health at University College London, where I do research and co-ordinate the module on the ethics of assisted reproduction. Over the next six weeks, we will look at some of the most fascinating - and controversial - issues in modern fertility medicine, and we will hear the stories of people involved in using these technologies.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 seconds"If you are wondering why we are doing this course, or why you should care about this stuff, it's because somebody, some folks out there in the world, really need to be abreast of these questions, they need to be alive to the implications, the social, the cultural, the ethical, the legal implications of these kinds of developments, and be able to constitute, and engage in, a really important, absolutely vital, social debate. We will also speak with clinicians, both in the private sector and in the NHS, as well as leading scientists and academics working in this field. This gives an opportunity to learn from the world leading experts and for you to contribute to this vital conversation.

Skip to 1 minute and 26 secondsThis course if for anyone interested in learning more about these new technologies and how they are changing the oldest of human endeavours - the business of making babies. I look forward to welcoming you to this course, and I hope you will enjoy your learning.

What topics will you cover?

The topics of the course are listed below.

  • Regulation of donor gametes (egg and sperm)
  • Fertility preservation (egg freezing)
  • Donor anonymity and parental disclosure
  • International surrogacy agreements, including surrogacy
  • Genetic testing of embryos and early in pregnancy
  • The prospect of human genome editing

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Following the course, learners will be able to synthesise information from a number of different fields.
  • Critically assess the accuracy and value of information about assisted fertility that is provided in the public domain (i.e., on the internet).
  • Be able to confidently contribute to the vital societal conversation around the use of reproductive and genetic technologies.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the science and ethics-legal aspects of assisted fertility.
  • Develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which fertility medicine is changing the way babies are born and the way families are constructed.
  • Be able to explain how each of the technologies covered in the course are changing the way people think about fertility and families.
  • Be able to reflect critically on the advantages and disadvantages of the new reproductive technologies.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in learning more about reproductive technology, including medical and healthcare students, clinicians and nurses working in women’s health, scientists and biotechnologists involved in reproductive technology and medicine, and couples and individuals seeking advice and information about assisted reproduction.

Healthcare professionals might find the Certificate of Achievement for this course useful for providing evidence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), or commitment to their career.

Who will you learn with?

Senior Research Associate, Institute for Women's Health (UCL). Coordinator of the ethics teaching on the Institute's MSc courses, researcher in preventive medicine and bioethics in Women's Health

Research Associate in the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research, Newcastle University. Research interests include preventing mitochondrial disease transmission and developing treatments.

Molecular geneticist and lecturer in reproductive science at UCL. Programme Director for the MSc in Reproductive Science and Women's Health at University College London.

Who developed the course?

UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

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