Centre reveals the wonder of genetic research to public

What goes on in a science lab? Find out at the MRC Genome Damage and Stability Centre's open day

Scientists at the University of Sussex are inviting the public to join them in the lab for a rare glimpse of inspiring genetic research into diseases such as cancer and hereditary conditions.

Guided tours of the MRC Genome Damage and Stability Centre will form part of a special open day at the University on Friday 21 June to mark the 100th anniversary of the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The MRC, a publicly-funded organisation founded in 1913 and dedicated to improving human health, is the primary funder of research carried out at the Genome Centre. To mark its centenary, the MRC is holding an Open Week (June 20-26) involving events at more than 40 MRC-funded facilities across the UK.

Visitors to the open day at Sussex on Friday 21st June in the Fulton building will be able to watch a unique piece of installation art being created, listen to talks, view science displays and an art exhibition and take part in hands-on activities.1

The exhibition – on the theme of ‘Repair of DNA damage, what we know and how we know it’ –  will introduce people to DNA, why it mutates, what this does to our cells, the diseases this can cause and the research being undertaken to see how these diseases can be tackled.

During the day local artists Stella Harding, Shirley Chubb and Chris Drury will be presenting work inspired by science and the natural world. Shirley Chubb’s ‘The Thinking Path’ depicts important places in the life of Charles Darwin, Chris Drury’s Life in the Field of Death, comprises works of art inspired by the Nevada nuclear test site and Stella Harding will be creating, with the help of the public, an installation made of hundreds of rubber gloves and other recyclable materials used by scientists in the lab.

Science teachers from schools in Brighton and Hove will be visiting to find out more about genetic science and how they can teach it in the classroom.

In the evening, there will be lectures given by molecular geneticist Professor Alan Lehmann (Chairman of the Genome Centre) on ‘Patching up our genes protects us from cancer’ and Dr Tim Chevassut, Senior Lecturer in Haematology, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, who will talk about the role of cancer research in the clinic.

The public are invited to attend all or any part of the day.

Professor Antony Carr, who is Director of the MRC Genome Centre says: “The Open Day will provide a unique opportunity for interested members of the public to find out more about DNA damage and repair, and its importance in keeping us healthy.”

Notes for Editors

1 The MRC Genome Damage and Stability Centre open day takes place on Friday 21 June 2013 from 12 noon to 5pm and from 6.30pm to 9.30pm.

Timetable of events

12 noon-9.30pm: Fulton Building: Science displays, art exhibition and creation of art installation                            

1pm-2pm:  What makes a research centre? Talk by Professor Tony Carr. Microscopy talk by Dr Eva Hoffmann.

2-3pm:  Pre-booked tours of the GDSC begin. To book a place email GDSC@sussex.ac.uk or phone: 01273 678123/877517.

3pm- 4pm: Structural Biology and Drug Discovery – talk by Professor Laurence Pearl, Head of the School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, and Genome Centre researcher. Human Genetic Diseases – talk by Professor Penny Jeggo, Senior Scientist, Genome Centre

4-5pm:       Continued creation of art Installation

6.30pm:     Cancer in the Clinic – talk Dr Tim Chevassut, Senior Lecturer in Haematology, BSMS.

7.30pm:    DNA Repair and Genome Instability – talk by Professor Alan Lehmann

The Medical Research Council has been at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Twenty-nine MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. www.mrc.ac.uk

The MRC Centenary Timeline chronicles 100 years of life-changing discoveries and shows how our research has had a lasting influence on healthcare and wellbeing in the UK and globally, right up to the present day. www.centenary.mrc.ac.uk

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email: press@sussex.ac.uk

View press releases online at: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/

Last updated: Tuesday, 18 June 2013