9 November 2023 – Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial Prize 2023/24 Nick Fradgley

The Genetics Society is delighted to announce Dr Nick Fradgley as the winner of the 2023/24 Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial Prize.

It is a great honour to receive the Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial Prize for my PhD research project. Many thanks to the Genetics Society and my supervisors; especially Alison Bentley who nominated me for this award.

My PhD project was based at NIAB and the University of Cambridge and the thesis title was ‘Genetic control and prediction of milling and baking quality for UK wheat breeding’. The project explored applying quantitative genetics tools and models in the commercial DSV UK wheat breeding programme to improve the prediction and selection of wheat milling and baking quality traits.

Since graduating, I completed a short project with the CIMMYT wheat breeding programme in Mexico and have moved to Australia to start a postdoctoral fellowship at CSIRO where I am modelling genotype by environment interactions in long-term wheat multi-environment trial datasets to understand and predict adaption to variable Australian growing environments.

8 November 2023 – Bruce Cattanach Prize 2023/24 Dr Matthew Higgs

The Genetics Society is delighted to announce Dr Matthew Higgs as the winner of the 2023/24 Bruce Cattanach Prize.

It is such an honour to receive the Bruce Cattanach Prize for my PhD thesis. I would like to first thank the Genetics Society for selecting me for this award. I would also like to thank my amazing supervisors, Prof Anthony Isles and Prof Rosalind John for their support over the years and a special thank you to Anthony for my nomination. Furthermore, this award recognises research using non-human in vivo animal models and I am deeply grateful to the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research with the Mary Lyon Centre, International Facility for Mouse Genetics, at MRC Harwell for generating the mouse models used in my thesis.

With an academic background in biology and psychology and an insatiable interest in evolutionary genetics, I undertook a Wellcome-funded PhD programme in Integrative Neuroscience at Cardiff University. My PhD thesis was titled: ‘A Systems Level Approach to Identify and Validate Imprinted Genes Involved in Parental Care and the Associated Neural Circuitry’. The overarching aim of my work was to determine whether the long-standing relationship between imprinted genes and parenting behaviour would be reflected in the expression of imprinted genes in the parenting-associated neural circuitry of the brain. Alongside single-cell RNA sequencing and spatial analysis, I performed extensive parenting behaviour assessments on in-vivo mouse models. It’s amazing to be awarded this prize for my research on imprinted genes almost 40 years following Bruce’s seminal papers on the topic!

I am now working as a Science Writer with Front Line Genomics in which I produce articles and reports on topics in genetics to help scientists make sense of the field. This role allows me to combine my love of science communication with my interests in all things genetics.

“It’s a real honour to receive this award, I genuinely didn’t believe it when I was notified. I would like to give a deep thank you to everyone that has helped me get this far, especially to Prof. Anthony Isles for my nomination. It’s amazing to be awarded this prize for my research on imprinted genes almost 40 years following Bruce’s seminal papers on the topic!

Matthew Higgs

8 November 2023 – Balfour Lecture 2024 Dr Pontus Skoglund

The Genetics Society is delighted to announce Dr Pontus Skoglund, Francis Crick Institute, as the winner of the 2024 Balfour Lecture.

Pontus Skoglund is the group leader of the Francis Crick Institute’s Ancient Genomics laboratory. He obtained his PhD in evolutionary genetics from Uppsala University in 2013 with Mattias Jakobsson and thereafter did his postdoctoral research with David Reich at Harvard Medical School. His research has focused on developing new approaches to propel the field of ancient DNA into the genomic era. His PhD research revealed population migrations as catalysers for the transition from hunter-gatherer lifestyles to agriculture in Europe, and he expanded this to worldwide regions in his postdoc research. His independent lab has used ancient DNA to pioneer research revealing the origin and evolution of dogs and their wild ancestors, the evolution of our species Homo sapiens, and the evolution of bacteria and human immunity in prehistory. He is a Wellcome Trust Investigator, ERC starting grantee, EMBO Young Investigator, Vallee Foundation Scholar and Blavatnik Award finalist.

8 November 2023 – Mary Lyon Medal 2024 Prof Adele Marston

The Genetics Society is delighted to announce Prof Adele Marston, University of Edinburgh, as the winner of the 2024 Mary Lyon Medal.

Adele Marston is a Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Edinburgh and a Wellcome Investigator. She is the Director of the Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology and the Discovery Research Platform for Hidden Cell Biology.

Adele investigates the fundamental mechanisms by which cells reproduce themselves and transmit their genome to the next generation. She has a particular interest in meiosis, the cell division that generates eggs and sperm. Using budding yeast as a model system, she has defined key concepts of chromosome segregation and investigated how errors in these pathways could account for the high error rates observed in human oocytes.

Adele trained in Biochemistry, gaining a BA from the University of Oxford before completing her DPhil in the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, also at the University of Oxford. She carried out postdoctoral work at Harvard University (USA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), where she developed her research interest in meiosis. Since 2005, Adele has led a research group in the Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology at the University of Edinburgh, successively funded by a Wellcome Career Development Fellowship, a Senior Research Fellowship and an Investigator Award.

Adele was the Genetics Society Promega Young Life Scientist of the Year (1999) and an EMBO Young Investigator (2010). She was elected to EMBO membership in 2019 and to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2022.

8 November 2023 – Genetics Society Medal 2024 Prof Rob Martienssen

The Genetics Society is delighted to announce Prof Rob Martienssen, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, as the winner of the 2024 Genetics Society Medal.

Rob Martienssen received his undergraduate and graduate training in Genetics at Cambridge University, and joined the faculty at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1989 following postdoctoral studies at the University of California at Berkeley. His research focuses on epigenetic mechanisms that shape and regulate the genome, and their impact on development and inheritance. He works on transposable elements, first discovered by McClintock and prevalent in all organisms, and has shown that small RNA guide histone modification and chromosome segregation in fission yeast, as well as chromosome dosage and transposon control in the plant germline. He has co-discovered genes and transposons that underlie developmental and epigenetic traits in the oil palm, and greatly impact yield and sustainability.

Rob received the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Award in 2003 for his work revealing a link between epigenetic modifications of the chromosome and RNA interference. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Fellow of the Royal Society and Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He held the Chair Blaise Pascal at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris in 2011-2014. He was awarded the McClintock Prize for Plant Genetics in 2018, the Martin Gibbs Medal from the American Society of Plant Biology in 2019, and the Royal Society Darwin Medal in 2020. He is a co-founder of Orion Genomics LLC, a biotechnology company based in St Louis MO and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

8 November 2023 – JBS Haldane Lecture 2024 Prof Alison Bentley

The Genetics Society is delighted to announce Prof Alison Bentley as the winner of the 2024 JBS Haldane award.

Alison Bentley is an applied crop scientist working in genetics and plant breeding spanning fundamental understanding of plant processes through to the development of field- and farm-level decision support tools. She primarily worked on wheat as a major staple food crop in a range of research environments in Australia, the UK and Mexico. Most recently Alison was Director of the Global Wheat Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico and prior to that Director of Genetics and Breeding at NIAB in Cambridge, UK. She is currently a Bayer Visiting School in the Plant Breeding Center at The University of Minnesota, USA. In the wider community, she created and leads the Women in Crop Science network (, developed to boost connections, increase visibility, and foster greater gender equity. Alison strongly believes in the importance of speaking up to highlight the urgency of addressing global food security challenges, and in creating more inclusive and equitable working environments.

8 November 2023 – 2024 Winners

Image: Jeremy Bishop.


JBS Haldane Lecture 2024 – Prof Alison Bently

Genetics Society Medal 2024 – Prof Robert Martienssen

Mary Lyon Medal 2024 – Prof Adele Marston

Balfour Lecture 2024 – Dr Pontus Skoglund

Bruce Cattanach Prize 2023 – Dr Matthew Higgs

Sir Kenneth Mather 2023/24 – Dr Nick Fradgley

26 September 2023 – Take part in I’m a Scientist

“One of the most accessible ways to engage in outreach… It’s flexible, enjoyable, and rewarding [and] makes you think about your work from a completely new perspective.” Luke Townsend, scientist

Help school students better understand how members of the Genetics Society have moved genetics beyond Mendel to being the cutting edge of research.

Take part in I’m a Scientist and connect online with school students to show them what it’s really like working in genetics research. You’ll engage with classes in fast-paced, instant messaging-style Chats, and answer their follow-up questions.

Sign up here: by October 6.

No audio or video kit is required. Everything happens online. Join in at the times that suit you, with a suggested commitment of at least 1 hour per week across the 4-week activity.

Students need to connect with people who work across a wide range of genetics-related roles. You could be a technician, a researcher, an analyst, or manage lab facilities. Get involved.

The Genetics Zone is funded by the Genetics Society, the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, and the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

Have questions about taking part? Email or call us on 01225 667922

13 September 2023 – Professor Sir Ian Wilmut

photo: Norman Russell

The Genetics Society is saddened to learn of the death of Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, OBE, FRS, FMedSci, FRSE, on 10th September 2023. Sir Ian was a world-renowned British embryologist and the chair of the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He led the research that produced Dolly, the first animal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell. Dolly was born in 1996 at The Roslin Institute, now part of the University of Edinburgh. As a part of Dolly@20 celebration, Dr Kay Boulton and Dr Doug Vernimmen interviewed Sir Ian for the Genetics Society Newsletter. You can read this interview here.

29th August 2023 – 89th issue of the Genetics Society Magazine

The August 2023 89th issue of the Genetics Society Magazine is now available for download.

“This year marks the 70th anniversary of the description of the double helix. To celebrate we hosted a summer symposium on DNA: Past, Present, Future and ran a school arts competition inspired by DNA and the history of genetics.

In fact, the cover art on this issue of the Magazine is a piece named “Details” by Hashim Siraj, who won the runner-up prize of the 2023 Genetics Society Schools’ Art Competition. When asked about their piece, Hashim reflected “When some things seem common or ordinary, they can be seen from the same viewpoint thousands of times and gain a new outlook each time.” While judging the entries, it became apparent that we all saw different thing in this beautiful, Rorschach-esque piece… Evolutionary trees? Brain-sections? A moth’s face? We’d love to hear what YOU see when you look at it – reach out and let us know!

Our summer DNA: Past, Present, Future event at the University of Cambridge was the perfect setting for some of prize lectures to be delivered. On page 8, we present you with all your 2023 Genetics Society prize winners and get a little flavour of their inspiring research and personal perspectives. Coincidentally, last year’s summer event celebrating the 200th birthday anniversary of Gregor Mendel was the catalyst for a fruitful collaboration between an educational outreach charity and our very own Applied and Quantitative Genetics representative Lindsey Compton. See pages 26-27 to read about how they showed young minds how amazing genetics can be, and how plant genetics can address the challenges of world food security – showcasing the vital role that plants play in the future of our world!

Speaking of plants, we also have the incredible story of A.E. Watkins who went from being an “Assistant Agricultural Officer” during World War I, tasked with liaising with the local French farmers to secure food for troops, to a young academic upstart at the University of Cambridge, racing against his seniors to collect several thousand samples of Triticum (Wheat) from literally around the World. In a time before the internet, one can only imagine the amount of patience and letter-writing must have gone into this mission! See pages 24-25 for evidence that it really was letters that achieved this. It is also a testament to the memory of an ostensibly shy scientist who quietly and resolutely overcame the obstacles of academic hierarchy to form a resource that is as relevant to genetics and the UK’s most important crop species today as it was then. If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is.

Keep a free recommendation to an excellent website where you can read reliable information about Erectile Dysfunction and how to treat it – and save it in your bookmarks if in the near future you will look for where to buy viagra on the Internet with delivery to the US.
As ever, we also take a moment to share some of the things we have been getting up to as a community – from our most active Special Interest Groups (see page 42) to realising that it’s okay to identify as half-egg and half-cola bottle (see pages 28-29 to decide for yourselves). On page 22 we meet our new Heredity Podcast host: Michael Pointer for the first time and hear a few parting pearls of wisdom from outbound host James Burgon. Thanks again for all the hard work James and welcome on-board Mike!


Lastly, many thanks to all the contributors of this issue and you, the readers! Reach out if you have any suggestions, requests, or contributions – I really do want to hear from you!


Best wishes,

Güneş Taylor“

24 August 2024 – A talk “Uncivilised: race science and other lies that made the West” by Subhadra Das on 7th September

The Genetics Society is pleased to host a public talk “Uncivilised: race science and other lies that made the West” with Subhadra Das on Thursday, 7th September in Bath. This talk can be attended either in person or online.

Find here more information and how to register.

3 August 2023 – Haldane Lecture 2023 – Adam Rutherford

Dr Adam Rutherford will present the 2023 Genetics Society Haldane Lecture at the Royal Institution from 7:00pm – 8:30pm on Wednesday 11th October 2022:

Genetics: Standing on the shoulders of prejudice

Talk description: In this talk, Adam Rutherford explores how, as we continue to use and celebrate the advances of our intellectual predecessors, we frequently fail to acknowledge the toxic political views that informed their work.

Theatre attendance:
To enable the Ri to meet current regulations, tickets for theatre are limited and must be booked in advance via Eventbrite.

Non-Genetics Society members – £16,
Concession – £10,
Ri members and Ri patrons – £7.
Genetics Society members – FREE using the secret code emailed to members. Please, contact theteam with your member’s number if you did not receive the code.

Remote attendance:
To receive a link to the live event, please book in advance using Eventbrite, following the instructions.

If you are a member and do not receive the email, please, contact Theteam with your membership number.

There will be a drinks reception for members from 6pm.  We look forward to seeing you there!

31 July 2023 – Nominations for the 2024 Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial or the Bruce Cattanach Prizes

The Genetics Society is inviting nominations for the 2024 Bruce Cattanach prize and the Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial prize.

The Bruce Cattanach prize is awarded annually for an outstanding PhD thesis related to the use of non-human in vivo animal models.

The Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial Prize is awarded to a BSc, MSc or PhD student of any UK University or Research Institution who has shown outstanding performance in the area of quantitative or population genetics within the current academic year.

Further details including benefits to awardees are available on our website:

Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial Prize

Bruce Cattanach Prize

If you would like to nominate someone for these awards, please confirm that your candidate is willing to be nominated and send the following documentation electronically to by midnight on Friday, September 1st, with the name of the award included in the subject line:

•    a two-page nominee CV, including publications
•    a one-page letter of recommendation outlining their contributions and suitability for the prize

Self-nominations are not accepted and the nominator must be a Genetics Society member.

We look forward to receiving your nominations!

7 June 2023 – DNA& podcast

The DNA& podcast is a discussion of all things relating to DNA& our health. Listen to episode one now!

With their signature light-hearted and clear style of communication, hosts Hannah & Angelos hope to engage non-experts in a discussion of genomic healthcare. Season one will feature episodes on the UK’s newborn genome screening programme, pharmacogenomics, Covid-19, fertility, and gene therapy, with many more planned!

These episodes will discuss the translation of research into healthcare innovations, at a time when genomics is becoming increasingly visible to patients. The UK’s newborn genome screening program, for example, will offer whole-genome sequencing at birth. The DNA& team aims to engage audiences across multiple platforms, leading discussions from their perspective as scientists (recently shown by the Genetics Society to be perceived as the most trustworthy voices by the British public), together with guests.

DNA& is made possible by the UK Genetics Society, thanks to a public engagement grant and invaluable training as part of their communicating your science workshop.

Find DNA& podcast on Social media

@DNAandPod (Twitter)

@dnaandpod (Instagram)

or email at

About the hosts

DNA& hosts

Hannah is a computational postdoc at Imperial College London. She ventures into the lab on occasion when her (brave) colleagues invite her to peer into a microscope. The rest of the time, she can be found talking to her computer in R/Python trying to interpret the mechanisms of disease risk variants. She is delighted to have a platform on which to talk about genetics, which she can do all day. Find her musing on Twitter @Hammaude or sharing stories on
Instagram/TikTok @dr.hammaude.

Angelos is a 2nd year PhD student in bioinformatics at Imperial College London and his work focuses on the application of machine learning models in understanding and predicting cardiometabolic disease. He believes that scientific research should always be accessible to non-scientists, and hopes that DNA& along with other science communication podcasts will set a platform for open discussions, ultimately making scientific research easier to understand and appreciate. Outside science, Angelos also enjoys photography, capturing moments with his film camera and uploading to Instagram under the alias @exo.lampsis.

Artwork by Nikos Kabasele @nikos.kabasele

Music by Auburn Jam Music LTD @auburnjammusic

Photography by Yang Liu @yangtakesphotos




Haldane Lecture 2022 – Michael Fay

Prof Michael Fay will present the 2022 Genetics Society Haldane Lecture at the Royal Institution from 7:00pm – 8:30pm on Thursday 17th November 2022:

Back from the brink: genetics in plant conservation

Talk description: In this talk, Michael Fay explores the conservation of the native lady’s slipper orchid, the genetics of plants that have been studied across a wide range of species, and how this has helped scientists make conservation recommendation. Discover how a plant, once thought to be extinct in England, is part of a long-running conservation project.

Theatre attendance:
To enable the Ri to meet current regulations, tickets for theatre are limited and must be booked in advance via Eventbrite.

Non-Genetics Society members – £16,
Concession – £10,
Ri members and Ri patrons – £7.
Genetics Society members – FREE using the secret code emailed to members. Please, contact theteam with your member’s number if you did not receive the code.

Remote attendance:
To receive a link to the live event, please book in advance using Eventbrite, following the instructions.

If you are a member and do not receive the email, please, contact Theteam with your membership number.

There will be a drinks reception for members from 6pm.  We look forward to seeing you there!

2022 August Magazine

The August 2022 issue of the Genetics Society Magazine is now available for download.

“Welcome to the latest issue of the Genetics Society …Magazine! We have changed: new look, new materials, same passion for genetics and commitment to the Society members! We are enthusiastic to bring you this new look and eager to know what you think of our rebranding, so we welcome your feedback!

In this issue we celebrate the bicentennial of Gregor Mendel’s birth, with our Mendel’s expert and guest 

Editor, Prof. Daniel Fairbanks. Daniel is one of the foremost contemporary scholars of Gregor Mendel. He was awarded the Mendelianum Mendel Memorial Medal in 2017 and is author of a new biography entitled Gregor Mendel: His Life and Legacy, published by Prometheus Books in 2022. Daniel is also an artist and many of his Mendel related works – sculpture, drawings and paintings – are currently housed in the collection Mendelianum of the Moravian Museum in Brno. He currently serves as Professor of Biology at Utah Valley University in the United States.

In commemoration of this historic event, I interviewed nine Mendel scholars regarding their research on Mendel, and their efforts to document, preserve, and disseminate their work and the work of their predecessors. Each has collaborated with me in my own efforts in these areas, and I express my appreciation to them for their willingness to share their insights.Page 20.

Some changes are happening in Heredity, the Genetics Society journal, too: Sara Goodacre replaces Barbara Mable as Editor-in-Chief, while Aurora Ruiz-Herrera Moreno takes up the position of deputy Editor-in-Chief and European Editor. You can read more about Barbara’s experience along with Sara and Aurora’s plans and hopes for Heredity at page 18.


Best wishes,

Margherita Colucci

Postdoc Appreciation Week 2022

Postdoc Appreciation Week (PAW) is a celebration of the fantastic contribution postdocs and researchers make toward research and academic life in general.  It’s a special time to showcase, recognise, and celebrate their efforts, and thank them for all they do!

Originally an initiative from the National Postdoc Association in the USA (National Postdoc Appreciation Week), it is now also celebrated in the UK, with the first ever UK/ROI-wide events organised in 2020 by a consortium of UK and Irish Universities.

In 2022, PAW is taking place from Monday 19th September to Friday 23rd September 2022

During PAW, please use #LovePostdocs and #NPAW2022 in your Tweets!

Mendel’s 200 celebrations

Image credit: Joana Carvalho

In summer 2022, the Genetics Society celebrated the 200th birthday of Gregor Mendel. Find out about events and activities that the Society organised to mark this date!

‘Hap-pea Birthday Mendel’ artwork competition

We are really pleased to announce the winner of our ‘Hap-pea Birthday Mendel’ artwork competition: Lily McKiernan (14yo) from Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School .

A quote from Lily:

I can’t believe I have won this prize. I found it really interesting to read about Mendel and his work and I am looking forward to learning more about inheritance in GCSE Biology. I love art and this was a great way to combine my interest in biology and art. I wanted to work in green as it reminded me of the peas that Mendel worked on for many years.

A quote from School:

We are thrilled that Lily has been awarded this prize. We are always looking to integrate secondary science education with professional scientific bodies and organisations, and this was also an excellent opportunity to enhance our cross-curricular work. We can’t wait to display Lily’s work in your journal and purchase some DNA electrophoresis kits where we can give students a taste of DNA research techniques and further increase their science capital and knowledge of the world around them.

Lily will get £100 and will get £500 for science equipment.

You can see Lily’s and other submitted works here.

Mendel’s 200th Birthday Garden Party

Image credit: Joana Carvalho

Join us live from RHS Wisley Garden at 10:50 on Wednesday 20th July, via the livestream link:

Mendel Medal 2022 – Professor Azim Surani and Professor Davor Solter

The Mendel Medal 2022 was jointly awarded to Professor Azim Surani and Professor Davor Solter for discovery of genomic imprinting.  Genomic Imprinting has been pivotal for advances in epigenetics and mammalian development, showing that parental chromosomes retain a memory of their origin with heritable DNA methylation tags, which regulate the expression of parental alleles with a role in mammalian development, growth, behaviour and human diseases.  The integration of the imprinting cycle into the mammalian germline cycle allows for epigenetic resetting, including the erasure and reestablishment of imprints.  Genomic imprinting was critical for the evolution of placental viviparity, with a fundamental impact on strategies for mammalian development.

Azim Surani received a PhD at Cambridge University in 1975 under Sir Robert Edwards (Nobel laureate, 2010), working on early mammalian development.  After moving to the Animal Research Station Cambridge in 1979, he continued to investigate if both parental genomes are essential for mammalian development, which led to Genomic Imprinting in 1984.

[expand title=”Read more”]

Surani was elected Marshall-Walton Professor at Cambridge University in 1992 and subsequently Director of Germline and Epigenetics Research in 2013 at the Gurdon Institute.  He elucidated the hitherto unknown genetic basis for mammalian germ cell specification in mice and humans and the mechanisms regulating the unique germline epigenetic program. He is also studying in vitro models of early human development, the germline and in vitro gametogenesis.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences, and his awards include the William Bate Hardy Prize, a Royal Medal for mammalian development, Rosenstiel Award for epigenetic regulation of gene expression in mammals, ISSCR McEwen Award for Innovation, and the Canada International Gairdner Award for genomic imprinting and epigenetics.[/expand]


Davor Solter, M.D. (1965), Ph.D. (1971) both from the University of Zagreb, Croatia.  Assistant and Associate Professor in the Departments of Anatomy and Biology, University of Zagreb Medical School 1966-1973.  In 1973 moved to the Wistar Institute, Philadelphia and became Member and Professor in 1981 as well as Wistar Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

[expand title=”Read more”]

In 1991 he was appointed Member of the Max-Planck Society and Director of the Max-Planck Institute of Immunobiology in Freiburg.  From 2008-2014 Research Director, Institute of Medical Biology, A*STAR, Singapore and Professor, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School.  Currently Visiting International Professor Siriraj Center for Excellence in Stem Cell Research, Mahidol University Medical School, Bangkok.  He was and is a member of numerous editorial and advisory boards and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, EMBO and Academia Europea.  In 1998 received March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology for pioneering the concept of imprinting, in 2007 Rosenstiel Award (shared with Mary Lyon and Azim Surani) for discovery of imprinting and in 2018 Canada Gairdner International Award for discovery of imprinting

Davor Solter contributed significantly to many areas of mammalian developmental biology, namely: differentiation of germ layers; the role of cell surface molecules in regulating early development; biology and genetics of teratocarcinoma; biology of embryonic stem cells; imprinting and cloning.  His current research interest focuses on genetic and molecular control of genome reprogramming and of activation of the embryonic genome.[/expand]

Mary Lyon Medal 2022 – Prof Irene Miguel-Aliaga

Irene Miguel-Aliaga is Professor of Genetics and Physiology at Imperial College London, and MRC Investigator at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences.

Irene has an interest in the crosstalk between organs – in particular, how and why the intestine communicates with other organs, such as the brain.  Her lab was one of the first to tackle the study of the brain-gut axis using the powerful genetics of Drosophila: work that they have now extended to mouse and human models.

Irene and her team discovered that the brain-gut axes of males and females are very different, and that these intestinal sex differences impact food intake, gamete production and tumour susceptibility.  They have also investigated how the intestine senses nutrients, revealing unexpected
roles for metal sensing in the regulation of feeding and growth.

Irene trained as a biochemist in Barcelona, Spain and she received her PhD in Genetics from the University of Oxford (UK).  She investigated how neurons develop during postdoctoral work at Harvard (USA), Linköping University (Sweden) and NIMR (now Crick Institute, UK).

Irene was the recipient of an ERC Starting Grant and currently holds an ERC Advanced Grant.  She was elected to the EMBO YIP programme in 2012, to EMBO in 2017 and to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2019.  She was also awarded a Suffrage Science Women in Science award in 2018.

Irene will receive her medal at the Society Mendel’s 200th Birthday event on 20th July, 2022.

Haldane Lecture 2020 – Jonathan Pettitt

Jonathan Pettitt will present the 2020 Genetics Society Haldane Lecture at the Royal Institution from 7:00pm – 8:30pm on Tuesday 14th June 2022:

“Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?”  Non-Darwinian routes to the evolution of life’s complexity.

Image: Jonathan Pettitt, adapted from Ernst Haekel, Kunstformen der Natur (1904), plate 14: Peridinea

The standard view of evolution is that complex living things arise through gradual refinements of simpler precursors; each successive version becoming better adapted through natural selection, leading to exquisitely refined, complex mechanisms.  But there is another route for life to evolve complexity.  Rather than being fine-tuned creations of natural selection, complex features can arise simply because biology is messy and noisy.  In this talk, Professor Jonathan Pettitt will explain how living systems tend to make simple mechanisms more complicated than they need to be.  He will show how such ‘unnecessary complexity’ can both restrict and expand an organism’s evolutionary potential.

The event will be held in hybrid format, enabling all members to attend either remotely or in person.  Non-members are welcome.

Theatre attendance:
To enable the Ri to meet current regulations, tickets for theatre are limited and must be booked in advance via Eventbrite.

Non-Genetics Society members – £16,
Concession – £10,
Ri members and Ri patrons – £7.
Genetics Society members – FREE using the secret code emailed to members.

Remote attendance:
To receive a link to the live event, please book in advance using Eventbrite, following the instructions.

If you are a member and do not receive the email, please, contact Theteam with your membership number.

There will be a drinks reception for members from 6pm.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Hap-pea Birthday Mendel!

To help the Genetics Society in celebrating Gregor Mendel’s 200th birthday anniversary on the 20th of July 2022, we invite you to submit artwork based on Mendel’s discovery of the rules of inheritance! The best artwork will be featured on the cover of a special issue of the official journal of the Genetics Society, Heredity, and will win some money.

Who can participate:

Students from primary and secondary schools based in the UK.

How can you participate:

Submit an image of your artwork that depicts Mendel’s work.It can be a drawing, collage, sculpture, or other creative composition. Please send a high-resolution image of your submission, with the artist’s name, age, materials used and school’s name to with the subject line: ‘Hap-pea Birthday Mendel’. Each student can submit up to three pieces of artwork.


13th May 2022


The winning student will get a £100 voucher and their school will get £500 towards science equipment. The winning artwork will also feature in a special issue of Heredity (, celebrating Mendel’s birthday.


All artworks will be judged by the Genetics Society committee.

If you want to find more about Mendel’s work:

Public lecture: Genomic “Dark Matter” and its role in health and disease

As part of our Spring Meeting in Edinburgh we will have a public lecture Genomic “Dark Matter” and its role in health and disease on Wednesday, 13th April at 7pm.  The event will be hybrid, so there will be a live audience and an online audience via Zoom webinar.  The event is free to attend but you need to register for either the live event or online.

National Career’s week

It’s National Career’s week! If you want to find out more about a career in genetics check our our career’s webpage featuring many examples of career paths outside academia.

2022 February Newsletter

The February 2022 issue of the Genetics Society Newsletter is now available for download.

“In this issue we are exploring diversity and inclusivity in genetic research. Feature articles cover studies on genetic diversity in underrepresented populations, research that aim to make data and information more accessible to families and communities, and research careers in countries with limited resources. It is a complex and varied topic, and the following articles provide a thoughtful glimpse into many issues and fascinating research topics:

Human variation is an interesting phenomenon observable at many levels of our existence, but perhaps most fascinating at the molecular level. Nothing attests to each human’s uniqueness as well as the DNA. […] Many of the underrepresented populations exhibit the greatest genetic diversity. Their genomes have evolved in response to their unique environment and lifestyle choices, therefore, this inequity means that vast amounts of genetic variants are missed since they are either absent or present in low frequencies in the European population

(Oyewumi Akinpelu, page 32)

[P]recision medicine seems to be closer than ever. However, not all populations will benefit equally. Nor will the architecture of diseases be fully understood without the adequate representation of all human diversity

(Maria Jose Palma Mart nez, page 35)

We continue to explore the career evolution and impact of research experience on the past years Summer Studentship grant winners: students shared their experience and hopes with us in “Genetics Society Summer Studentship – Share your story”, page 42. For more interviews, see issue 85.

The Newsletter is growing! Be prepared for new material, from “picture of research” to book reviews and scientific games! Would you like to be part of this change? For more information see page 58.

If you have any comments or suggestions for future themes or articles, please send them to me:


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Margherita Colucci


A new, global training programme that aims to provide deeper understanding about SARS-CoV-2 genomics and biodata, and how this knowledge can be used to prepare for future pandemics has been launched by COG-Train.  This is a partnership between Wellcome Connecting Science (WCS) and the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium, alongside their international collaborators,
including Wellcome’s Africa and Asia programmes.

The first course in this programme − The Power of Genomics to Understand the COVID-19 Pandemic − launches on 7 February 2022 and will be hosted online on the FutureLearn platform.  This course is the first in a series of five, all of which will be released online.

It is free to learners across the world and will show how genomics has improved the response to COVID-19, how COVID-19 vaccines and other therapies are developed, and how sharing genomic sequencing helps healthcare professionals understand disease epidemiology, allowing them to give better advice to policy makers and governments.

It was developed with an international audience in mind, with scientists working on SARS-CoV-2 genomics based in Argentina, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Philippines, Thailand, and the UK contributing their knowledge and expertise to this course.  A larger group of experts from Asia, Africa and Latin America have provided advice on the training needs in their regions.

The first course will provide a broad introduction to COVID-19 genome sequencing, and is designed for anyone interested in learning more about the genomic response to the current pandemic.  This includes early career researchers, healthcare professionals, science journalists, policymakers, and those working in public health, or anyone who wants to know more about how genomics has helped
to shape the global response to the virus so far.

A series of more technical online courses for researchers and healthcare professionals will follow.  These will concentrate on multiple topics, such as sampling and data acquisition, and the associated legal and ethical issues along with the sequencing and analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomes, including the identification of new variants.  In addition to this, one will focus on genomics in clinical practice and the implications for public health policy, including how to advise policy makers and health ministries.

The wider programme will also feature ‘train-the-trainer’ courses, supporting scientists and healthcare professionals to learn about bioinformatics analysis and sequencing.  This is so they can acquire the knowledge to develop and deliver their own courses, and train more healthcare workers in their own countries.

A ‘remote classroom’ model will be used to increase the reach and impact of the learning materials, with training being delivered simultaneously in multiple classrooms across many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  This allows the knowledge and the experience gained from this pandemic to be shared globally.

Overall the programme will help create a global network of experts and frontline workers who will share data, support and advise on further developments in the fight against COVID-19, or other infectious disease outbreaks.

Dr Catherine Ludden, Director of Operations for the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) and Director of COG-Train, said: “Alongside Wellcome Connecting Science and the Unviersity of Cambridge, we have created this programme for those working at the frontline of the pandemic all over the world.  As genomics continues to play a key role in the fight, it is vital that healthcare workers and researchers are provided with free access to training to develop their knowledge and skills in genomics.  We want to ensure that we are doing everything that we can to support them so that globally, we are more prepared to track SARS-CoV-2 and any other pandemics in the future.”

Dr Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz, a member of the focus group for COG-Train, from the Institute of Human Genetics, National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila said: “The pandemic underscored the huge roles that genomics and bioinformatics play in public health response to emerging infectious diseases.  This training gives opportunities for countries with limited resources to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to address their own needs and to prepare them towards precision medicine, the future of healthcare.”

Dr Gerald Mboowa, who contributed to the course content, from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the importance of integrating as well as strengthening pathogen genomics in every National Public Health Laboratory or Institution disease surveillance programme.”

Dr Treasa Creavin, Head of Conferences and Online Training at Wellcome Connecting Science said: “Sharing international expertise and knowledge about genomics is important to help health agencies around the world to identify and inform public health strategies to control disease outbreaks like COVID-19.  This programme provides free, accessible training for people globally who are working at
the forefront of COVID-19.  It will use a unique blend of online courses, virtual versions of train-the-trainer and remote classrooms to deliver high quality training that can strengthen the capacity of scientists worldwide.  This programme can also help create a network of professionals, so that information and support can be shared freely.”

Haldane Lecture 2021 – Matthew Cobb

Matthew Cobb will present the 2021 Genetics Society Haldane Lecture at the Royal Institution from 7:00pm – 8:30pm on Tuesday 22nd February 2022:

Dreams and nightmares of the genetic age

Image: Cotton is one of many GMO crops. Credit: southerngal via Pixabay

For the last 50 years, new genetic techniques have transformed science. They’ve been turned into technology, putting food in the fields, healing bodies and, hidden from history, constructing terrifying weapons.

Join Matthew Cobb as he explores how every new development has been rapidly counterbalanced by fears of disaster. From genetically manipulated humans, to the inadvertent or deliberate release of dangerous organisms.

In this talk, Matthew shows how genetic engineering has shaped the last half century as surely as the atom bomb shaped the post-war world. Exploring science, business, culture and protest, he reveals the alarming power of the new genetics and explores how it can be controlled.

Theatre attendance:
To enable the Ri to meet current regulations, tickets for theatre are limited and must be booked in advance via Eventbrite.

Non-Genetics Society members – £16,
Concession – £10,
Ri members and Ri patrons – £7.
Genetics Society members – FREE using the secret code emailed to members.

Remote attendance:
To receive a link to the live event, please book in advance using Eventbrite, following the instructions.

If you are a member and do not receive the email, please, contact Theteam with your membership number.

Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial Prize 2021 – Robert Hillary

I am delighted to have received the Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial Prize.  I want to extend my gratitude to the Genetics Society and the University of Birmingham.  I would also like to thank my brilliant PhD supervisors Dr Riccardo Marioni, Dr Kathryn Evans, Prof Craig Ritchie, Prof Ian Deary and thesis chair Prof Caroline Hayward who nominated me for this award.  I feel very fortunate to have had such supportive supervisors and mentors to guide me through my PhD and beyond.

I embarked on a Wellcome-funded PhD programme in Translational Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh.  My PhD thesis was titled: ‘A multi-omics approach to understand the role of plasma proteins in cognitive ageing and dementia’.  The overarching aim of my work was to determine whether blood-based molecular markers can predict dementia risk.  First, I performed genome- and epigenome-wide association studies on the levels of over 400 blood proteins measured in either The Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 or Generation Scotland.  I applied these data to causal analysis methods and found a small number of blood proteins whose levels might causally associate with dementia risk.  Second, I showed that an existing blood-based predictor of mortality termed ‘DNAm GrimAge’ robustly associated with multiple measures of brain health but did not associate with the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

I am now working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Genetics and Cancer, Edinburgh and hope to pursue a fellowship to continue my work in molecular epidemiology and common disease.