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Introduction to Postgrad study in the Department of Genetics

The Department of Genetics is host to around 50-65 postgraduate students at any given time. They work on a wide range of problems of modern biology, from population genetics and ecology, to the detailed analysis of the transcriptome. Genetics has always been at the forefront of biological research, and continues to be a central agent of discovery.

The Department has its core in the Genetics Building on the Downing site, and is host to a number of enterprises, for example FlyBase, which highlight our open and interactive spirit. In addition it has homegrown ties with the Cambridge Systems Biology Centre, the Department of Engineering, the Cavendish Laboratory, the Gurdon Institute, iGEM [International Genetically Engineered Machines], Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, and the Centre for the Physics of Medicine. This reflects our appreciation that modern biological research is interdisciplinary, and that students should learn to move between fields and scientific languages. These interactions act as showcases for a varied offer of courses and seminars from the different institutes which challenge and develop students.

Modern biology is about a systems-level of understanding of problems, and this approach binds many of the local groups together. Groups cover a wide spectrum from cell biology problems with molecular dimensions about cell mechanics (divisions, migration and communication), to higher order population biology problems which raise questions of ecological and evolutionary significance.

A research degree is a treasure hunt, with the prize not necessarily being the degree, but the opportunity to find something interesting about nature, and in the process, enjoy gazing at your favourite object. The Department in its variety and interactions offers you an environment to do just that during the most interesting years of your academic life.

What I like the most about the MPhil in Genetics is that it has given me 
the opportunity to enjoy conducting my own research, without the 
additional pressure of attending mandatory lectures. In exchange, I have 
had enough time to sign up for training courses in bioinformatics, and 
to attend as many talks and seminars as I wished. The department has a 
friendly atmosphere and after the refurbishment it is looking great! 

[Lorena Garcia-Perez; Completing MPhil, July 2015]

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Image at top credit : James Rice