- 21/03/11 - Genetics and DNA Conference gives Biology Students a lot to Think About
A group of A level biology students from Strode College recently visited University College London for a series of lectures about work in the field of DNA and genetics. Speakers from universities all over the country shared their knowledge on different aspects of this work which the students found fascinating and thought provoking.
They heard about stem cell therapies and their future in medicine, including how stem cells can be used to help with genetic obesity. They learnt about work to create artificial blood; about where stem cells can be taken from, and they found out about astrobiology, which involves scientists searching for planets which may be able to house life.
Sir Alec Jeffreys, who developed genetic fingerprinting, spoke about his work which transformed legal and forensic medicine - his techniques have been used to help convict criminals and to free those wrongly accused of crimes. He also raised ethical questions about how his work has been used, highlighting the UK National DNA Database, which holds DNA for millions of innocent people who were arrested but not charged.
Fiona Deacon, Biology lecturer at Strode College said: "The conference was extremely interesting. It gave our students a new insight into the real life application of biology, and showed us not only the scientific perspective, but also the moral implications of new research and treatment. There was an interesting debate about how science is reported in the media, which made the students think hard about the differences between entertainment and education, and how facts can be misinterpreted and misrepresented. It's given us a lot to think about."