RSA/NSPCC event - How nurture alters nature

RSA Event


RSA House, London

  • Health & wellbeing
  • Social networks
  • Science

Professor Moshe Szyf’s trailblazing research in epigenetics highlights the impact that external factors and the social environment can have on gene expression. In this special RSA NSPCC event, he considers how we deploy the latest scientific thinking to some of today's toughest challenges.


Moshe Szyf is a pioneer in the field of epigenetics - the study of the interaction between genes and our experiences and environment, or 'nature and nurture' as the non-scientists among us know it.

His trail-blazing research has challenged genetic determinism, showing that while our DNA is pretty much set, external factors such as toxins, and even the social environment, can trigger a biochemical reaction in cells that can change the way our genes express themselves.

Moshe has applied this thinking to the field of cancer, but is increasingly considering how it might be applied to other areas of policy and practice, such as child development and the behaviour of sexual offenders.

For example, epigenetics has shown how early childhood stress and trauma get built into the brain and the body with lifelong effects such as increased risks for certain illnesses such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If sexually abusive behaviour is the result - not just of genetic inheritance - but also of the social environment, then this clearly has significant implications for how we set about preventing sexual abuse.

Join us for this special RSA NSPCC event to hear Moshe Szyf consider how we deploy the latest scientific thinking to some of today's toughest challenges.


Speaker: Moshe Szyf, professor of pharmacology and therapeutics, McGill University Medical School, Quebec.

Chair: Claudia Hammond, author, broadcaster and presenter, All in the Mind, BBC Radio 4

In partnership with NSPCC

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