University bioethics expert to explore human enhancement

Date 12.11.2015

Dr Merryn Ekberg, a specialist in the ethical, legal and social aspects of gene technologies and Senior Lecturer in Bioethics at the University of Northampton, will be hosting an interactive lecture as part of the Royal and Derngate’s ‘Discover a Brave New World’ afternoon on Saturday 5 September.

The Royal and Derngate and Errol Flynn Filmhouse have an afternoon of genetics-based activities planned to celebrate the launch of the Brave New World production, which is opening in Northampton before embarking on a major national tour. It is the first time that Aldous Huxley’s ground-breaking novel has been adapted for the stage. To celebrate, the theatre have collaborated with science professionals to devise a series of talks and activities that will have attendees discussing and questioning. What is genetic enhancement? What is possible in today’s society? What could be possible in the future?

The day will feature two full-length film screenings – Gattaca and Jurassic Park 3D, before the 7:45 stage production of Brave New World. From 6pm the theatre will be hosting a variety of pre-show interactive displays and activities, some of which include having a go at extracting DNA from fruit and seeing its development during the interval. Attendees will also be able to look at DNA models through microscopes to see if you can match the sample to the image, create art by having their photograph taken on arrival and literally becoming a double helix. Guests will also be invited to vote for whether they agree with the themes and principals explored in the play and see if their opinion changes pre and post show.

​Dr Ekberg’s lecture will take place after the Jurassic Park 3D screening, and will cover the different definitions and different forms of human enhancement. It will explore the current realities and future possibilities of enhancing human capabilities. Some case studies will be included to illustrate the areas of current research in enhancement technologies and some of the ethical debates around the use of enhancement will be explored. After the lecture, Dr Ekberg will be on hand to talk to attendees about the University of Northampton and key dates in genetics history – including the famous case of Dolly the cloned sheep.

Tickets for each film and talk cost £8. To book tickets for Brave New World, visit the Royal and Derngate website.​​