November 2001

Belgian Society of Human Genetics


Board
M Abramowicz, President
G Mortier, Secretary
F Kooy, Treasurer
W Courtens
K Dahan
K Devriendt
I Liebaers
L Van Maldergem

Dear colleagues, dear friends,

The BeSHG joins other national 'SHGs to oppose European patent

As you all heard, American company Myriad Genetics is patenting the BRCA1 gene in the European Union. If the test was to be performed only by Myriad genetics, this would cause serious problems for women and families at risk, or who believe themselves at risk, for hereditary breast/ovarian cancer. Direct access to a commercial test, without genetic counselling, would result in incorrect interpretation of results in too many cases. It would eventually make a difference between women who can or cannot directly pay for the test, which is expensive (it is charged around 3.000 US$). It would hamper research in the field, for example research projects focusing on mutations of BRCA1 not tested by the Myriad test. And clearly it would be a precedent to have social security, or the patients themselves, pay an American company for a test which is currently routinely performed by Belgian clinical genetics centers, and research laboratories. For all these reasons, many in Belgium wanted to oppose this patent before the October 10 deadline. Keeping with its mission of representing Belgian geneticists, the BeSHG used its legal existence to file a patent opposition, together with the Danish, Dutch, English and French Societies of Human Genetics, along with other institutions like the KULeuven who did most of the legal work in Belgium. We feel we can be very happy, and proud, to have created our Society last year.

Next Meetings

The next annual meeting of the BeSHG will take place on 22/02/2002 at the VUB as announced previously. We hope this will be another memorable day! The general theme of the meeting will be GENETICS OF MULTIFACTORIAL DISEASES , with a Keynote lecture by Prof Marc Van Montagu. Here is the preliminary program :

08.30 REGISTRATION
08.50 WELCOME
09.00-09.30 MULTIFACTORIAL INHERITANCE
L. Sandkuijl (Leiden)
09.30-10.00 GENOME SCANS AND PROTEOMICS IN TYPE I DIABETES
J. Nerup (Copenhagen)
10.00-10.30 GLUCOSE REGULATION OF GENE EXPRESSION
IN PANCREATIC BETA-CELLS
F. Schuit (Brussels)
10.30-11.00 COFFEE BREAK/POSTERS
11.00-11.30 USE OF GENETIC MARKERS FOR THE CLASSIFICATION
AND PREDICTION OF TYPE I DIABETES
F. Gorus (Brussels)
11.30-12.30 KEYNOTE LECTURE
WHY DO WE NEED GENETICALLY MODIFIED PLANTS ?
M. Van Montagu (Ghent)
12.30-14.00 LUNCH/POSTERS
14.00-14.30 GENETICS OF BIPOLAR DISORDERS
M. Nöthen (Antwerp)
14.30-15.00 GENETICS OF MAJOR DEPRESSION: USING TEMPERAMENT
AND HYPOTHALAMIC PITUITARY ADRENAL AXIS FUNCTION
AS INTERMEDIATE PHENOTYPE
S. Claes (Antwerp)
15.00-15.30 COFFEE BREAK / POSTERS
15.30-16.00 GENETICS OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS:
CAPILLARY MALFORMATION AS AN EXAMPLE
OF COMPLEX INHERITANCE
M. Vikkula (Brussels)
16.00-16.30 GENETICS OF CROHN'S DISEASE
G. Thomas (Paris)
16.30-17.00 CLOSING CEREMONY
17.00-18.00 GENERAL ASSEMBLY


Instructions for Abstract submission will follow very shortly.

The 2003 meeting will be held at the KULeuven. Applications for the 2004 meeting are open.

Satellite symposium

The V.U.B. Center for Medical Genetics celebrates its 20th birthday in 2002, and is holding a satellite symposium on Saturday morning February 23 - focusing on "The State of the art of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD): practice and ethics. The past, present and future of Medical Genetics in Belgium". The V.U.B. team welcomes all members of the Society to participate in the symposium and the anniversary reception. The full programme will be announced soon.

Informations of Interest

Prof Hans Galjaard (Rotterdam) will lecture in Brussels on the occasion of Prof Esther Vamos farewell on Monday 28 January 2002. Venue at the Musée de la Médecine, Campus Hôpital Erasme, 808 Lennik, B-1070 Brussels, at 6 pm.


With best regards,

Geert Mortier
Secretary
geert.mortier@rug.ac.be
Marc Abramowicz
President
marcabra@ulb.ac.be