About this event

  • Date and time Mon 25 Jan 2021 from 5:30pm to 6:35pm
  • Location Online
  • Organised by Medical Genetics

The fifth webinar in The genetics of… series. This webinar will explore the role genetics plays in influencing criminal activity and violent behaviour. Questions will be posed such as: Is there something in the genetic code that predisposes to criminal behaviour? Is nature versus nurture at the very core of understanding this? We will be hearing from leading researchers in this fascinating field of science, arguing for and against the existence of genetic factors and exploring the role of epigenetics in the study of criminality. 

During this webinar you will:

  • Explore the studies that have been undertaken to identify genetic factors in criminal behaviour. 
  • Argue the role for environmental factors precipitating such behaviour and how these interact with an underlying genetic predisposition 
  • Familiarise yourself with certain genetic conditions, such as Fragile X syndrome, in driving criminal behaviour 
  • Consider the impact of genetic factors in judicial processes

The genetics of… series has been developed following feedback from delegates attending the Genetics of COVID-19 webinars. Presented by the Medical Genetics section of the Royal Society of Medicine, this series of talks will focus on the role of genetics in different areas of health and well-being.

This activity has been supported by a grant from Roche Products Limited. Roche Products Limited has had no input into the arrangement or educational content of this activity.

A CPD certificate with 1 CPD credit will be issued to those joining each webinar live and will be automatically issued after 7 days  to those who watched the webinar live in its entirety. Those who watch the webinar on-demand will receive a CPD certificate 30 days after the webinar has gone live.  

Join in the conversation online using #RSMLive
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Registration for this webinar will close 2 hours prior to the start time. You will receive the webinar link 2 hours before the meeting. Late registrations will not be accepted. 

Key speakers

Professor Han Brunner

Professor of Medical Genetics, Radboud University, Netherlands

Speaker's biography

Han Brunner is a professor and Head of the Department of Human Genetics at Nijmegen University Hospital and Maastricht University Medical Center, in the Netherlands. Brunner discovered a large number of disease genes, by applying cutting - technologies (genomic microarrays, exome sequencing, and whole-genome sequencing) to understand genetic diseases.

Much of this work is on neurodevelopmental conditions such as intellectual disability and abnormal behaviour. His work has established that in non-consanguineous populations, the major cause of intellectual disability lies in spontaneous new mutations. Han Brunner received a number of international awards for his work in translating novel research findings into patient diagnosis and care.

Brunner is an elected member of the Academia Europea and of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science.

Dr Jorim Tielbeek

Neuroscientist and criminologist, Amsterdam University Medical Center and VU University Amsterdam.

Speaker's biography

With an academic background in criminology, psychology, and neuroscience Jorim Tielbeek is fascinated by the question of why youngsters differ in their propensity to develop antisocial psychopathologies. To tackle this question Dr Tielbeek uses a biosocial approach: incorporating both biological risk factors (i.e. genetic make-up, brain structure, and function) and social factors (peer influences, childhood adversity).

Given the typical low effect sizes found in these studies, larger samples are needed to achieve sufficient statistical power and thus collaboration is key. Hence Jorim Tielbeek initiated the Broad Antisocial Behavior Consortium (BroadABC) with the mission to conduct genetic and gene-environment interaction analyses at a large scale on antisocial behaviour aimed at identifying pathways underlying antisocial behaviour.

Professor Paul S Appelbaum

Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine & Law, Columbia University

Speaker's biography

Paul S Appelbaum M.D is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Law, and Director, Center for Law, Ethics and Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University; a Research Psychiatrist at the NY State Psychiatric Institute; and an affiliated faculty member, Columbia Law School.  He directs Columbia’s Center for Research on Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Psychiatric, Neurologic, and Behavioral Genetics, and heads the Clinical Research Ethics Core for Columbia’s Clinical and Translational Science Award program. He is the author of many articles and books on law and ethics in clinical practice and research, including four that were awarded the Manfred S. Guttmacher Award from the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

Dr. Appelbaum is Past President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. He has twice served as Chair of the APA Council on Psychiatry and Law, and of the APA Committee on Judicial Action, and now chairs the APA’s DSM Steering Committee. He was a member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Networks on Mental Health and the Law and on Mandatory Outpatient Treatment and was a Network Scholar for the Network on Neuroscience & Law.  Dr. Appelbaum has received the APA’s Isaac Ray Award for "outstanding contributions to forensic psychiatry and the psychiatric aspects of jurisprudence," was the Fritz Redlich Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. 

Dr. Appelbaum is a graduate of Columbia College, received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and completed his residency in psychiatry at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center/Harvard Medical School in Boston. 




View the programme here

Welcome and introduction
The crime gene: does MAOA cause criminal behaviour

Professor Han Brunner, Professor of Medical Genetics, Radboud University, Netherlands

Genome-wide association studies and beyond

Dr Jorim Tielbeek, Neuroscientist and criminologist, Amsterdam University Medical Centre and VU University Amsterdam

Behavioural genetic evidence in court

Professor Paul S Appelbaum, Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine & Law, Columbia University

Panel discussion
Close of meeting



More from this series:

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The genetics of musicality, intelligence and sporting ability: Episode 4

The fourth webinar in The genetics of… series. In this webinar, specialists will be exploring the role that genetics plays in musical and sporting ability and whether there is evidence to suggest that intelligence could be inherited. We will also be joined by the incredibly talented musical guest Sheku Kanneh-Mason and his mother Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason

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The genetics of forensic medicine: Episode 6

The sixth webinar in The genetics of… series. In this webinar, we will hear from expert speakers about the way that DNA has revolutionised forensic science. Participants will learn about the unique regions in the genetic code that allow fingerprints to identify individuals and how these became the mainstay of forensic medicine. Join us to hear how direct to consumer testing has helped to solve crimes and how molecular information is stored on the national DNA database.

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The genetics of addiction: Episode 7

The seventh webinar in The genetics of… series. In this webinar, participants will have the chance to recognise the arguments for and against the role of genetics in addictive behaviour. Leaders in their fields will engage in a discussion to explore the role of DNA in driving addiction and to consider how epigenetic factors display the interplay of nature versus nurture.

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The genetics of ancient DNA and health: Episode 8

The eighth webinar in The genetics of… series. This unique and exciting webinar will allow participants to explore studies of ancient DNA and understand how it can inform us about the health of our species today. We have an unmissable chance to hear from specialists in the field blazing trails and harnessing key messages hidden within the genetics of our predecessors. 

Registration for this webinar will close 2 hours prior to the start time. You will receive the webinar link 2 hours before the meeting. Late registrations will not be accepted. 

Special rates for difficult times 
The RSM wishes to offer healthcare professionals continued learning opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic. The RSM’s weekly COVID-19 Series webinars remain free of charge, while there will be small charges to register for other online education. These fees will enable the RSM to continue its programme of activities and will apply during the course of the pandemic. 

Webinar recordings will be available for registered delegates up to 30 days after the live webinar, via Zoom. The link will be sent 24 hours after the webinar takes place. 

This webinar will be recorded and stored by the Royal Society of Medicine and may be distributed in future on various internet channels.  

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