Science Society, Genetic Research: Turning Genes On and Off

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On the evening of Wednesday 22nd March, Professor John Schwabe gave the second Science Society talk of the academic year on the topic of Genetic Research: Turning Genes On and Off.

After sharing his own experiences of studying at university, both at Oxford and Cambridge, John told us of how his research in the field of Cell Biology had taken him on adventures as far as the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, and as near as the University of Leicester, where he currently presides as Head of the Molecular and Cell Biology Department, and Director of the Leicester Institute of Structural & Chemical Biology.

We know that the human body contains trillions of cells, all busily going about doing their jobs while we enjoy our days. Each of these cells has a nucleus that contains our DNA – genetic material passed on to us from our parents. John explained to us where these genes are located in different cell types, and how they work together to turn one cell into, for example, a kidney cell, whilst another cell with the same total set of genes might make bone. John went one step further to tell us that these genes aren’t a fixed, predetermined programme simply duplicated from one generation to the next, but are rather in a state of flux, and can be altered to influence the genetic legacy that we pass on to our children, or, as John referred to in the case of rabbits, by turning them fluorescent green!

Thank you to all those students who attended the talk, and thank you again to John for an exceptional presentation.

Adam Chorley,

Head of Science