In early June, Marianne Legato, MD FACP, Founder and Director of the FGSM, traveled to Baltimore to deliver the keynote address at the annual meeting hosted by the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences (OSSD) and the International Society of Gender Medicine (IGM).
The three day conference, which was the last joint venture by the two organizations, featured presentations from both clinicians and researchers at the forefront of gender-specific medicine. Co-chaired by OSSD president, Virginia Miller, PhD and IGM President, Marek Glezerman, MD, the event offered symposia on the sex disparities of topics as varied as fetal programming, cancer, stem cells, heart disease, and depression, to name a few. The international audience created a lively atmosphere of collaboration.
In her presentation, Gender-Specific Medicine after the Age of Darwin: Achievements and Challenges in 21st Century Science, Dr. Legato talked about the role that sex will play in the new sciences of genomics and synthetic biology. “In a world where the computer can create living organisms,” she asked, “is gender even necessary?” She cautioned that the new sciences are not topics to be set aside for a distant future. The rate of technological progress grows exponentially, and the next ten years could bring changes that affect life outside of the research lab. Dr. Legato also challenged the audience to consider the ethical consequences in addition to the scientific breakthroughs of such innovations as the animal-human chimera and artificial intelligence.
The keynote speech ended with a call to action. Dr. Legato encouraged a colloquium between jurists, ethicists and scientists about the legal and moral implications of the new sciences. She quoted General Omar Bradley, who said, “We are ‘giants’ when it comes to technology, but ‘ethical infants’ when it comes to understanding its consequences.”