News from the Department of Genetics
New Professor of Genetics
The Department of Genetics is pleased to announce that Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith has accepted the University’s offer of the post of Professor of Genetics, and will be joining this Department. Professor Ferguson Smith is distinguished in the area of mammalian epigenetics. Her Group is currently located in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
Further information about the move will be announced here as details become known
Image at right: Cambridge Neuroscience
PLM8 - Physics of Living Matter Symposium, 19-20 September 2013
Alfonso Martinez Arias is one of the organisers of the annual Physics of Living Matter symposia. PLM8 will be held on 19 and 20 September, at DAMTP. The full programme is yet to be announced, but themes for this year include: The Cytoskeleton, Mechanotransduction, Cell Population Dynamics, and Plant Morphogenesis. Sir John Gurdon will be the special guest.
For further details and updates please go to : http://plm.eng.cam.ac.uk/
Another Department member wins Pilkington Prize
Dr Christine Farr has been awarded one of the 2013 Pilkington Prizes for excellence in teaching in Cambridge University. As a long-standing Course Organiser for the Part II Genetics course, Christine has played a great part in giving it the high reputation that it enjoys. The esteem in which her teaching is held is reflected, among other ways, in consistently good feedback for her segments of the course.
Pilkington Teaching Prizes were established by businessman and alumnus of Trinity College, Sir Alastair Pilkington, in 1994. The aim was to ensure that excellence in teaching at the University is given proper recognition. Dr David Summers, also in the Department, is a previous prize winner.
Adryan Group launches new website
Boris Adryan has launched a new website, in order to make their research more accessible and encourage interaction. Not only can you find shared technical hints, eg useful code snippets, on the site, but alsoyou are invited to comment on articles etc. Following a couple of very exciting discussions on Twitter - one of the Junior European Drosophila Investigator's favourite platforms - the Group is now using arXiv to pre-publish work that is just undergoing peer review.
View the website here: http://logic.sysbiol.cam.ac.uk.
5th Sequencing Informatics Meeting
Boris Adryan, Gos Micklem and Aylwyn Scally are organising the 5th Sequencing Informatics Meeting, which will be held on Monday, 15th April 2013 from 9.00am - 5.30pm in the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Wilberforce Road. This promises to be an exciting meeting for people who deal with NGS data. It's free and everyone is welcome.
Register and obtain the poster here: http://www.ccbi.cam.ac.uk/Events/Workshops/5_NGSday.php
Online training package for newcomers to Drosophila genetics
John Roote, who recently retired as manager of the Department's Fly Facility, has co-authored a training package with Dr Andreas Prokop from the University of Manchester. 'How to design a genetic mating scheme: a basic training package for Drosophila genetics' is freely available on the web, and provides much-needed comprehensive help for those who are new to working with Drosophila for research
>> University news page for more information - http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/world-first-for-fly-research/
>> Article about the package in G3 - doi: 10.1534/g3.112.004820
Bioluminescence make the news again
During the summer vacation in 2010, University of Cambridge undergrads working on the annual iGEM [International Genetically Engineered Machines] project researched some of the possibilities of using bioluminescent plants; for example having luminous trees instead of energy-consuming street lamps. They built a set of parts to allow bioluminescence in E. coli, with further potential applications in biosensors, and took sequences from two species of fireflies and the marine bacterium Vibrio fischeri. With this information, they produced "BioBricks" which allow a range of coloured light outputs, and which can increase the intensity and longevity of light emission. The Cambridge team, which included Ben Reeve and Theo Sanderson, who both went on to study for Part II Genetic, finished in the top 6 of the 120 teams in the competition, winning a gold medal and a mention in New Scientist. Theo Sanderson has now been interviewed by the BBC.
BBC article - 24 January 2013 : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21144766
Cambridge iGEM Team site for the project : http://2010.igem.org/Team:Cambridge
New Scientist Article - 25 November 2010: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20827885.000-glowing-trees-could-light-up-city-streets.html
Official IGEM website, including information on future competitions: http://ung.igem.org/Main_Page
Martinez Arias Group launches new video on Developmental Biology
Developmental Biology aims to understand the emergence of an organism from a single cell. It probes embryos with experiments in the hope of unravelling principles that govern the way they are made. The developmental biologist, like the subject of a famous R. Magritte painting (Clairvoyance) looks at an egg and sees the processes that shapes it into chick, a fly, a fish or a mouse. The real artists in this process are the cells and this video tries to capture them at work in different organisms. You will see them weaving shapes and tissues, organizing these tissues into organs, you will see how we envision the process as cells rolling down hills and valleys that, we imagine, determine the differences that lead them to become different. You can also see a glimpse of the Hox code, a group of genes tightly linked to the positioning of the different organs along the axis of an organism, which are conserved across all species thus speaking of a Universal code in development.
The study of Developmental Biology yields some beautiful imagery and we have tried to capture some of it here. If you know Biology we hope this resonates with you, if you don't, we hope you appreciate the process, if you wonder what to study, we hope that you will see that trying to understand how cells make organisms challenging though it may be, produces some enjoyable vistas.
New Group joins the Department
Dr.Aylwyn Scally has joined the Department of Genetics on a 5-year lectureship position. Aylwyn has come from the Sanger Institute, and his recent work includes sequencing and analysis of the gorilla genome [he was first author in the Nature paper], and a reassessment of the human mutation rate, which affects estimates of primate and hominin divergence times, among other things.
For more details of his research, see: https://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/research/scally.html
Royal Society meeting on Cellular Polarity
Dr Rafael Carazo Salas is co-organising a Royal Society scientific discussion meeting on Cellular Polarity : From Mechanisms to Disease, which will gather scientists from the UK and abroad to discuss the future of cell polarity research, and how to maximize its impact in translational biomedicine. Discussion sessions will follow talks by world experts in the field, from academia and pharma. It will be a unique opportunity to foster collaborations and define the future of this topical field. It will be held on 15 and 16 April 2013.
More details, draft programme and poster, from the meeting website : http://royalsociety.org/events/2013/cellular-polarity/
Poster also available HERE
Genetics Centenary video
The video compiled for the Centenary, 'From Punnett to Personal Genomics' is available to watch at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features/from-punnett-to-personal-genomics-a-century-of-genetics-in-cambridge/
See links in panel at left.
Page updated 16 January 2013