On 5th September members of CISoR took over Woolf College for an extravaganza entitled “SEX AND DRUGS AND IVF.” A Café Scientifque session started with Martin Warren, Professor of Biochemistry, and a talk entitled “Inheritance of the royal malady” where he gave an account of a study of porphyria and haemophilia in the royal family. Martin revealed some of the science behind what was wrong with King George III and how recent studies are looking at his DNA. Dr Sarah Johns gave us “An Evolutionary Sex Education Lesson” while Sarah Norcross, Director of Progress Educational Trust told us emphatically why it is NOT three parent IVF. Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics, covered some of the history and anecdotes of the 25 years of PGD from the humblest of beginnings to what has now become a multi-million dollar industry and the talks concluded with Robbie Sutton, Professor of Social Psychology telling us about sexist beliefs in female superiority and their surprising consequences. Aside from the talks, works by the key members of CISoR were on display as posters including Nick Newton-Fisher’s “Promiscuous females travel for sex” and Robin Mackenzie’s “Sex with robots.”
Visitors took a stroll around and visited our various booths and stalls where several of our friends from industry were visiting such as Brand (with their “pipetting challenge”), Cytocell (with their “FISHing” game), Digital Scientific, Research Instruments and “JSR Genetics” from the pig breeding industry. Many had a go at our famous “sperm toss” game and met, in person, some of the birds that we study (including falcons and parrots).
The seminar rooms were also full of a wide range of activities. These included “Lab Rejects” (Dr Dan Lloyd). This mini exhibition celebrated a series of these that had recently become obsolete by mining their recent history, exploring their use, and understanding the technological advances that have rendered them Lab Rejects. Gina Glover’s Art in A.R.T artwork was on display including playful explorations of the biomedical sciences. Andy Birtwistle’s “Laboratory Film” was shown that captures the laboratory environment in vivid, revealing and
unexpected ways, following a scientist as she sets up her own PCR-based experiment. The meeting marked the unveiling of YouNome by Keith Robinson a unique science- art collaboration designed to engage, educate and inspire the general public about ‘personalized genomics’. Keith produced 25 self-portraits, each representing the 24 human chromosomes (plus mitochondrial DNA) by altering his self-image. Keith aims to facilitate genetic understanding and reference art history, popular culture and effects on the viewer. The Vice Chancellor Julia Goodfellow and her husband Peter Goodfellow (a leading geneticist) got the YouNome treatment with their own personalised versions.
Members of the Griffin lab also demonstrated their trade showing visitors what goes on inside an IVF lab. With the help of the London Women’s Clinic they created an “IVF experience” to give the public a little bit of an insight into how to visualize and move embryos. In the “DNA lab” the public learned about themselves at the most fundamental level – the cell, They had fun with doing some hands-on biology and tried their hand at isolating DNA, the substance that makes every one of us who we are.
The unexpectedly low numbers did not dampen the spirits of those that attended and pictures from the day can be found here.