Social Sciences and the 'omics Revolution

Time: 13:00 - 17:00

Venue: Kanaris Suite The Manchester Museum Oxford Road Manchester

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The event is split up into 3 separate talks. 

13:45-14:30 Interdisciplinary research and omics data: what can social scientists contribute? Professor James Nazroo, University of Manchester

The use of biological data have been considered (by some) to be crucial to understanding the significance of social inequalities. The potential for an investigation of biological processes has expanded as social science data collections have increasingly incorporated detailed relevant data. This talk will draw on experience of working on an interdisciplinary programme of research that incorporated metabolomics data (alongside other biological data) to explore pathways in relation to risk of frailty. It will focus on the role of social sciences in framing the use of such data and how such data can be used to address, or distract from, a social science research agenda.

14:30- 15:15 How can epigenetics enhance social science research?: Professor Gillian Bentley, University of Durham

Epigenetics promises to provide us with mechanistic explanations of how the environment (including both social and biological factors) can rapidly influence the human body and its functions. This has attracted social scientists to the potential of epigenetics to illuminate the effects of, for example, social inequalities and poor developmental environments on later life health and wellbeing. This talk will use a specific example of early life development and its impact on reproductive health among British-Bangladeshi to illuminate how epigenetic studies can enhance our knowledge of rapid change across even first generation migrants. Further implications for the social sciences will be discussed.

15:45- 16:30 Can social science ignore molecular genetics? Professor Melinda Mills, University of Oxford

The past decade has brought an explosion of molecular genetic data and advanced methodological techniques in this area. There is an increasing interest to understand the relevance of genetics to the types of social behavioural outcomes examined by social scientists such as educational attainment, wellbeing and fertility. This talk provides an overview of current research that adopts a sociogenomic approach and future research challenges.