Clinical Genetics in Britain: Origins and development

Clinical Genetics in Britain: Origins and development

Clinical genetics has become a major medical specialty in Britain since its beginnings with Lionel Penrose’s work on mental handicap and phenylketonuria (PKU) and John Fraser Robert’s first genetic clinic in 1946. Subsequent advances in diagnosis and prediction have had key impacts on families with inherited disorders and prospective parents concerned about their unborn children. The Witness Seminar focused on the beginnings of British clinical genetics in London, Oxford, Liverpool and Manchester, the development of subspecialties, such as dysmorphology, and also the roles of the Royal College of Physicians, the Clinical Genetics Society and the Department of Health in the establishment of clinical genetics as a specialty in 1980. Specialist non-medical genetic counsellors, initially from the fields of nursing and social work, progressively became a more significant part of genetic services, while lay societies also developed an important influence on services. Prenatal diagnosis became possible with the introduction of new genetic tools in regional centres to identify fetal anomalies and chromosomal disorders. This volume complements the 2001 Witness Seminar on ‘genetic testing’, which emphasizes laboratory aspects of medical genetics, with limited coverage of clinical genetics.

Participants include: Ms Chris Barnes, Dr Caroline Berry, Professor Martin Bobrow (chair), Professor Sir John Burn, Dr Ian Lister Cheese, Professor Angus Clarke, Dr Clare Davison, Professor Joy Delhanty, Dr Nick Dennis, Professor Dian Donnai, Professor Alan Emery, Professor George Fraser, Mrs Margaret Fraser Roberts, Professor Peter Harper, Dr Hilary Harris, Professor Rodney Harris, Professor Shirley Hodgson, Dr Alan Johnston, Mrs Ann Kershaw, Mrs Lauren Kerzin-Storrar, Professor Michael Laurence, Professor Ursula Mittwoch, Professor Michael Modell, Professor Marcus Pembrey, Professor Sue Povey, Professor Heather Skirton, Professor Sir David Weatherall. 

Introduction by Sir John Bell, 168pp, 2 appendices, 16 figures, 1 table, biographical notes, references, glossary and index

Harper P A, Reynolds L A, Tansey E M. (eds) (2010) Clinical genetics in Britain: Origins and development. Wellcome Witnesses to Twentieth Century Medicine, vol. 39. London: The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL.
ISBN 978 085484 1271