• University of New South Wales

Myths and Realities of Personalised Medicine: the Genetic Revolution

Learn about personalised medicine and the impact that our enhanced understanding of genetics has on modern medicine and society.

3,160 enrolled on this course

Pills inscribed with people's names and initials
  • Duration

    5 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Personalised medicine. Precision medicine. Individualised medicine. Customised medicine. Targeted medicine. All buzzwords of recent years that excite, confuse and infuriate the public, researchers and healthcare professionals. Broadly speaking, these terms all refer to the idea of tailoring treatment to individual patients based on their genetic code.

What does it all mean, and why should you care?

This free online course will discuss both the hype and hope surrounding the genetic revolution and personalised medicine. The impact of personalised medicine on clinical practice will likely yield significant benefits for patients, yet it raises a number of serious ethical and legal issues for health professionals, patients and the community.

Explore the power of genetics across disease prevention and diagnosis

In this unique course you will learn from leading researchers and healthcare professionals how genetic testing is currently used to guide treatment across diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and mental health, and infectious disease. You will also explore the power of genetics to impact disease prevention and diagnosis, and the social, legal, political and ethical implications of this new knowledge.

Examine key personalised medicine topics week by week

Week One: We begin by discussing what causes disease and development of personal traits – our genes or our environment? We will also explore how genes are passed from one generation to the next, basic medical genetics, and how recent technological and scientific advances have heralded the advent of the genetic revolution, and the global approach and impact of these advances.

Week Two: We will explore the concept of risk and multifactorial disease. We will describe examples of genes that pre-dispose patients to specific diseases, and discuss genetic testing and genetic counselling.

Week Three: We will investigate the use of personalised medicine today and tease out the reality from the hype. We will also explore the apparent delay between research findings and translation to the clinic - from bench to bedside.

Week Four: We will describe the rationale of medical patents, clinical trials, drug approval and regulation, and how these differ in various parts of the world.

Week Five: We will explore and debate the legal and ethical issues surrounding genetic testing and personalised medicine.

Form your own opinion on the genetic revolution

This course will distill the hype around personalised medicine, and allow you to form your own opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of the genetic revolution. Learning from a wide variety of expert clinicians and researchers currently working in the field, you will be equipped with the language and skills to debate the impact of personalised medicine on your own situation.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds SPEAKER 1: UNSW Australia.

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds SPEAKER 2: Personalised medicine.

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds SPEAKER 3: Customised medicine.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds SPEAKER 4: Precision medicine.

Skip to 0 minutes and 14 seconds SPEAKER 5: Individualised medicine.

Skip to 0 minutes and 15 seconds SPEAKER 6: Targeted medicine.

Skip to 0 minutes and 17 seconds SPEAKER 7: Even bespoke medicine.

Skip to 0 minutes and 18 seconds CAROLINE FORD: These are all buzzwords of recent years that equally excite, confuse, and infuriate the public, researchers, and health care professionals. What does it all mean? And why should you care? Join us on a journey into the human genome. Discover the technological advances that have enabled this genetic revolution to take place. Explore the potential benefits to you of genetic medicine and the legal, cultural, ethical, and psychosocial controversies surrounding this new era. We will reflect on the impact that this will have on you as a patient, family member, health care professional, researcher, or just a citizen of our society. Don’t miss this voyage with me, Dr. Caroline Ford.

Skip to 1 minute and 6 seconds SHERI NIXDORF: Dr. Sheri Nixdorf.

Skip to 1 minute and 9 seconds RACHEL WILLIAMS: Ms. Rachel Williams.

Skip to 1 minute and 12 seconds ORIN CHISHOLM: Dr. Orin Chisholm.

Skip to 1 minute and 14 seconds CAROLINE FORD: Myths and Realities of Personalised Medicine– The Genetic Revolution.

What topics will you cover?

  • Basic medical genetics
  • The concept of Nature vs. Nurture
  • The Human Genome Project
  • The Cancer Genome Atlas
  • An introduction to genetic counselling and risk determination
  • The impact of personalised medicine on the treatment of Cancer, Neurological diseases and Infectious diseases
  • The process of medicines development in Australia
  • Social, ethical and legal issues surrounding the development of personalised medicine

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

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

  • Apply new vocabulary to discuss current aspects of personalised medicine and genetics
  • Demonstrate an ability to apply knowledge across different disciplines and to your own circumstances
  • Demonstrate greater awareness of developments in the field of genetics and personalised medicine
  • Critically analyse health issues, scepticism about media depictions of medical research and innovations

Who is the course for?

Anyone interested in learning about personalised medicine. No particular background in science or medicine is required. All you need is an Internet connection, and the time to read, write, discuss and debate the issues raised by personalised medicine. All are welcome.

Who will you learn with?

Dr Caroline Ford is the Group Leader of the Metastasis Research Group based at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre, UNSW Australia. She has a strong interest in personalised medicine.

I am a Senior Lecturer and the Program Authority in Pharmaceutical Medicine, School of Medical Sciences, UNSW Australia. I have extensive industry experience in registration of oncology products.

I am the Prince of Wales Hospital Hereditary Cancer Clinic Genetic Counsellor Network Clinical Lead and Conjoint Associate Lecturer at UNSW Australia.

I am an Associate Lecturer in the School of Women's and Children's Health, UNSW. My expertise is in research of adult cancers & education in cancer science/therapies, personalised medicine and ethics.

Who developed the course?

UNSW Sydney

Established in 1949 with a unique focus on the scientific, technological and professional disciplines, UNSW is a leading Australian university committed to making a difference

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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