InScience Film Festival

Future Stories: Samantha Hughes

If the predictions from a few decades ago were right, we would by now have flying cars and easy communication with aliens. Yet, the future has turned out differently than expected. What are the predictions for the future in 2020? Samantha Hughes is Principal Research Scientist at Arnhem and Nijmegen University of Applied Sciences (HAN). For the film block Shorts: Big Stories Behind Small Matters, she talks about small organisms and the future of ecology, together with PhD student Constant Swinkels and assistant professor Liesje Mommer. Here she gives her vision of the future, against the background of her field.

The Future in the Making

“I think that the next 10-15 years will see a huge drive towards personalised medicine and how we can live longer healthier lives.

I am a research scientist, and half way through my BSc degree in Biochemistry, the project to sequence the whole human genome was completed after 13 years. This amazing achievement being presented to me at such early stage of my career, was inspirational and has driven me to explore DNA in more detail. Now, I think nothing of sending a sample for full sequence analysis – it can take a few days and cost just 4000 USD, just a fraction of the 1 billion USD it cost in 2003!! Surprisingly, sending samples for sequencing is almost as common as going to the supermarket to buy a loaf of bread, and it is even possible to shop around for the best price!

In the future, I believe that genome sequencing will be done very early in life, proving valuable information to people about how to live well and eat properly to prevent diseases such as cancer. However, this does raise an important question – how much personal data are you willing to provide to have the information that allows you to live longer?”

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