A quick update

As summer draws closer, and the celebrations begin, deep in the heart of the biology building of York University, a dedicated group of students can be found, each day glued to their laptops. Our project is now in full swing.


Heavy metals and toxic pollutants have long been, and continue to be recognised as a serious problem in our environment. It’s not surprising therefore, that research in this area is already abundant. We have some great jumping off points for our project and we’re getting pretty close to deciding the details of our project, ready for the summer lab work to begin!

One of the strengths of the iGEM is that it encourages cooperation and team work. Our projects are so much more important than just the competition and the way iGEM works means that working together for greater results is rewarded. We’ve been looking at some fantastic projects from previous years which we may work to build on. All will be revealed…


Bioline are very kindly sponsoring us. A big thank you to them.

Sponsorship is very difficult, particularly for small projects such as our. Any help to get us one more step forward is always wonderful as talk has begun on getting our finished project to the international jamboree at MIT in Boston. The trip is expensive, but well worth it to get to present to a whole host of teams and companies from around the world!


We are excited to be sending team members down to a meetup with teams in Oxford later this week. Watch this space to see how it goes…


Inspiring science


A large part of our project is the human practice side. As seen in our previous posts, we’ve been going into schools to inspire and educate students about the project. But trying to make science fun and accessible is something which has been going on for a while now and is only getting better. Museums, Galleries and centres around the world open to the general public have been inspiring children and adults alike for years. I remember being amazed by trips to the Science Museum in London as a child. I know I have my parents to thank a great deal for their patience in taking a day out to treat me. But with the internet, and our phones always at our fingertips, inspiration, and interaction with science on a daily basis is becoming easier for everyone.

A post-doctorate speaker here at York yesterday gave a lecture on the project she is involved in researching Ash dieback disease. As part of the project, her team are trying to find differences in DNA sequences which might explain the resistance found in some Ash trees.  But matching sequences of DNA can be a long, time-consuming process. So where do you go to enlist help? Facebook may not seem like the obvious choice for scientific research but with over 1.23 billion users monthly, why not try? Fraxinus is a simple and addictive game on the website which allows players to match patterns coding for actual DNA sequences. And this game is not the first of its kind! Foldit is an online game which allows players to predict the folding of human proteins, providing information about the part they may play in some of the most major human diseases, including cancer and HIV.

So the next time you have a few moments spare, why not try to solve some of the World’s problems? Give it a go.

The top 10 biologists who have changed the world

Biochemical Society

The Society of Biology is on the hunt to determine the top 10 biologists who have changed the world.

They’ve gone through scientists with commemorative plaques, historically recognised greats of the past, and sought nominations from the public to produce a list of 40 of these individuals with links to the UK. They are now after your help to find the top 10 by voting in their poll.

The choice is from an impressive list of who’s who in the world of biology and with a healthy dose of biochemists included, we imagine those in our network will have difficulty choosing.

One choice, Sir Alec Jeffreys, is undoubtedly someone who has had a major impact on the world. His discovery of variation in human DNA and development of techniques for DNA fingerprinting revolutionized the way police fight crime, and helped resolve paternity disputes and unite immigrant families.

Dorothy Hodgkin,

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Stem cell funding must remain

Biochemical Society

Earlier this month the Biochemical Society, along with 32 other organizations, signed the Wellcome Trust’s statement Supporting Funding for Stem Cell and Reproductive Health Research in Europe.

The statement was produced in response to the European ‘One of Us’ Citizens’ Initiative that is seeking a ban on all financing of activities that presuppose the destruction of human embryos, including stem cell research, within the European Union.

We signed the statement because we believe that stem cell research continues to be one of the most promising fields of biomedical research and offers the opportunity to greatly improve the health of European citizens. The funding ban proposed would have a negative impact on research involving human embryos for regenerative medicine, reproductive health and genetic disease.

The issue has already experienced a robust debate, and the current framework for funding stem cell research, as part of Horizon 2020, was approved in just…

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