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How much modern genetics should be learnt in school?

Wellcome Trust Blog

Science moves so quickly that it would be impossible to alter GCSE and A level courses to include each and every discovery. But occasionally, new knowledge emerges that could be considered ‘game-changing’, requiring special consideration. Is modern genetics an example of a game-changer, and if so, what can be done to prepare future citizens for its applications, ask Peter Finegold and Matthew Hickman.

Genome sequencing is one technology that has already had a marked effect on the way bioscience research is done, and promises to alter our experience of healthcare in the future. Views expressed by crystal ball gazers have been caricatured at the extremes; either as head-in-the-clouds or head-in-the-sand. The loftier visionaries predict a utopia in which detailed DNA knowledge of individuals and populations will prevent some illnesses from developing and turn other, lethal conditions into ones that can be treated and lived with. Meanwhile the ‘ostriches’ fear that cheap…

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The young scientists of tomorrow in a workshop for today

Wellcome Trust Blog

‘A Question of Taste’ is a molecular biology and evolution workshop for students aged 16+.  At Nowgen, instead of using public engagement specialists, the workshop is led primarily by PhD students, helping make the workshop more ‘authentic’ and providing a platform for young scientists to engage with school students.

Here, four researchers from The University of Manchester share their thoughts on why they think it’s good to engage.

The day begins at 10am with the students arriving at The Nowgen Centre. After students have signed in and put away their coats and bags, lab coats are donned and the fun begins!

The first part of the day (and possible highlight) involves the taste test: each student tastes two strips of paper, one control and one coated in phenylthiocarbamide (PTC). PTC tastes bitter to some people yet is tasteless to others; this differing response frames the day’s engaging practical activities and discussions…

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