The conference this Thursday through Saturday will be the 20th such international event organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.

"If life begins in the genome, and life is identified with health, health also begins with the genome, and in the genome we should virtually find the whole harmony," said the council's president, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, at a press conference Tuesday.

"In other words, in the genome we find the beginning of the tension that constitutes health," he said. "In this international conference, we will start from the consideration of the genome as a structural element that organizes the human body in its individual and hereditary dimensions."

"The topic is very large and is subject to new research and discoveries; consequently, our perspectives are modest," the cardinal added. "We want only to address this argument under the specific aspect of health, which, moreover, as we have said, is an all-encompassing concept."

About 700 people from 81 countries are expected to attend the conference.