Why Precision Medicine is not Very Precise (and why this should not surprise us)

29 January 2020, 6.00 PM - 29 January 2020, 7.30 PM

Wills Memorial Building, Reception Room

Following the Philosphy of Cancer Biology workshop the Centre for Science and Philosophy and the Centre for Health, Humanities and Science are co-hosting a Public Lecture entitled ‘Why Precision Medicine is not Very Precise (and why this should not surprise us)’. There will be a talk by Professor Anya Plutynski, followed by a panel discussion with Dr Karoline Wiesner , Dr James Brennan and Heidi LoughlinDr Julian Baggini will chair. 

The event is free and all are welcome but it is necessary to register in advance. Please follow the eventbrite link below for full details and to register your interest for the Public Lecture.



Precision medicine has created a lot of hope, especially for cancer patients. In the ideal case, there is one comprehensive test provided to patients, a clear-cut prognosis, one clearly preferred targeted therapy, and outcomes will be ideal. I will argue that in the vast majority of cases, what we actually find, and indeed ought to expect, are rather different outcomes. Decisions about treatment are complex, there are moderate improvements in survival in the vast majority of cases, and indeed, very few cancer patients are likely to benefit. This talk will explain why this is true, and why this should (by now) not surprise us. I then offer advice for patients and families, and for researchers and policy makers, to ensure better communication about this difficult process.

There will be coffee and tea served from 5.30 and a wine reception after the event.

The Wills Memorial Building is wheelchair accessible and there are porters at the entrance. There is a lift at the back of the buildings. Toilets are located on the ground floor.

For any access requirements and more details and to register for the workshop, please email Charlotte Withers (cw1658@bristol.ac.uk).

The events are co-hosted by the Centre for Science and Philosophy, the Centre for Health, Humanities and Science, the Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, and the Life of Breath project.



Contact information

Miss Charlotte Withers, Administrator for the Health, Humanities and Science Faculty Research Centre


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