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Department of Genetics


Research into Motor Neuron Disease, summer 2014

During the summer, the Department hosted a summer student as part of a placement organised by the Nuffield Foundation. Kimbolton School student Michelle Meng won a British Science Association Gold CREST Award for her research into MND, undertaken with the help of Graduate student Alex Patto, who is also working on this disease, in the O'Kane Lab.

Michelle also gave a presentation [at Anglia Ruskin University], and delivered a report on her research. She explained : "Using novel experiments and fruit flies I investigated the function of the gene SPG11 in autophagy, a gene known to be mutated in those with motor neurone disease".



 UK-Japan Young Scientist Programme, July 2014

Members of the Kimata lab participated in the 'UK-Japan Young Scientist' programme. In this week-long workshop, 16-17 year old pre-A or A-level students (2 English and 2 Japanese) dissected, stained and analysed Drosophila brains, as well as staining and analysing cultured Drosophila cells. Both the lab members and the school students very much enjoyed the collaboration. The programme ended with an excellent presentation by the students  as well as a formal dinner at Trinity College.

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Cambridge Science Festival, March 2014

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Belgin Yalcin and Alex Patto on the right

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Gunel Huseynova

Postgraduate students Belgin Yalcin, Alex Patto and Gunel Huseynova participated in the workshop 'Of Bugs and Men' at this hugely popular event, demonstrating how studying insects contributes to our research. Gunel, Alex and Belgin talked about how we use Drosophila in this Department to help our understanding of neurodegenerative disease.

Weird and Wacky Wildlife, July - Aug 2014

Also as part of the Science Festival, Jonathan Lawson's 'Weird & Wacky Wildlife' talk enjoyed a great deal of success in Cambridgeshire schools.

In July and August he repeated that talk at Shepreth Wildlife Park, introducing visitors to some of the strangest life on our planet, and showing the amazing ways that living things have adapted to survive.

Robinson Research Day, May 2014

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At Robinson [College] Research May on 3 May, Duccio Conti gave a talk entitled Aneuploidy prevention: the role of phosphatases in chromosomes segregation.

Inspiring school students

Boris Adryan gave talks and programming lessons to primary school children for, a network of volunteers who run after-school clubs in computing for children aged 9-11. He also gave careers talks to Parkside Federation students. As a STEM Ambassador, Boris also gives talks on the interfaces between computing and science. STEMNET = Science, Technology and Mathematics Network, acting to inspire school students to pursue study in those areas.

Promoting science to non-scientists

Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith gave a talk at the Cheltenham Science Festival, to increase awareness of genetics research among the general public. She also spoke to the art academic community on the same subject at the Fabrics of Life Workshop [January 2014] at the University of the Arts / Central St Martins.