Genomics Blog

August 28, 2014 1:14 PM
The Score Lands in Canada's Science Culture

The Score is a play that brings together science, art, music and dance.
It became a movie that earned a Gemini nomination for its photography and music score, a Best Movie of the Week nomination at the Banff Television Awards, and a Leo nomination for  Best Musical Score in a Feature Length Film. And now the obscure 2005 movie has found a spot in the Council of Canadian Academies report on science culture in Canada.
The original play was commissioned in 1999 by geneticist Dr. Michael Hayden of the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics and was created by Electric Company Theatre in Vancouver.

The Score's latest claim to fame is in the report Science Culture: Where Canada Stands where it appears in the section on linking science to the arts, and the suggestion that such a collaboration engages more students and adults, and widens the audience for science stories.
The report refers to the motive for commissioning the play and says, "Hayden believes that his play transforms the scientific ideas explored in the world of the laboratory into universal themes of human identity, freedom and creativity, and opens up a door for a discussion between the scientific community and the public in general”.

I watched the movie when I first stared work here at Genome Alberta and I can vouch for that engagement because I didn't need to be a scientist to understand those themes, not to mention the science that I was about to start promoting in my job.
The Score centres around Dr. Lynn Magnusson, a geneticist working hard to isolate a cancer-causing gene but she has to beat the competition from a multinational pharmaceutical firm. As if that pressure faced by researchers all over the world isn't enough, she could also carry the gene that causes Huntington's disease causing her to face her own mortality.

The movie may be a decade old but the science hasn't changed except to grow stronger, deeper, and more robust making the understanding of genomics in society all the more crucial. The Council of Canadian Academies report was certainly encouraging with numbers that said 42% of Canadians "grasp basic concepts and understand general media coverage of scientific issues" but that leaves a pretty large percentage out in the dark. Science journalist and Beakerhead founder Jay Ingram was on the panel and he said “While 87 per cent [of survey respondents] knowing that the . . . earth goes around the sun is pretty good, that still leaves 13 per cent of Canadians who haven’t absorbed the astronomical knowledge of several centuries ago”.
There is still work to be done and movies such as The Score can help in that work and we'd like to share it with you.

We still have some copies of the DVD in the office and would like to give them away to help you understand a bit more about genomics and about the ethical issues being raised by the science.
But you'll have to work a bit to enter the random draw.

Answer this simple question that can run pretty deep into some of your understanding of the implications of science and more specifically the implications of the genomics related science.
" If a genetic test could tell you that you had a serious or possibly fatal disease, would you want to know?" 

That is one of the dilemmas facing Dr. Magnusson in the movie.
 You can leave you answer in our comments section below or if you think you can be really precise, send a Tweet to @GenomeAlberta.

You'll have to make sure you leave your e-mail address when the comments section asks for it , but the address won't be posted. Without your e-mail address I can't send you a video, but I also won't be adding you to our e-mail lists so you're safe.
We'll give away the videos on a first come, first to win basis.

Here are a couple of scenes from the movie:


Tyler Irving -

While I can understand why some people might be squeamish, I WOULD prefer to know what my genes have in store for me. Even if there's no way to stop or slow a negative outcome, knowing the truth would help me make more informed choices about how to live my life in the meantime. I suspect I would be bolder and less afraid of failure. In that sense, facing your own frailty/mortality can be a wonderfully freeing experience.

Mike Spear -

Looking forward to seeing what people think about having a test for serious or possibly fatal diseases.