The Genetics Society is a registered charity and was founded in 1919 as the world’s first society devoted to the study of the mechanisms of inheritance. It is also one of the world's oldest "learned societies". Famous founder members included Edith Rebecca Saunders, William Bateson, JBS Haldane and AW Sutton. The Society is run by an elected committee comprising entirely volunteers from the scientific community. Genetics Membership includes over 2,500 of the UK's active professional genetics, including teachers, researchers and students and is open to anyone with an interest in genetic research or teaching, or in the practical breeding of plants and animals.
Photograph: Kay Boulton from Cells of Life by Charles Jencks
The Genetics Society holds one main Scientific Meeting per year in November, taking on the format of a single symposium comprising one major theme with invited speakers, and a number of contributed papers and poster sessions. A spring meeting teamed with other relevant societies is sometimes a welcome addition to the calendar. Sectional Interest Groups hold meetings throughout the year, enabling members to discuss subjects of topical, local and specialist interest. Like the main meeting, these include papers both from local members and from invited speakers.
The Mendel Lecture, in honour of the founder of modern genetics, is given usually on alternate years at a London Meeting by an internationally distinguished geneticist. To encourage younger geneticists, one of our members under the age of 36 is nominated each year to give the Balfour Lecture (named after our founder President) either at a Meeting held in conjunction with other scientific society meetings, or at the November Society meeting. The Mary Lyon Lecture was established in 2015 in honour of the distinguished geneticist to award mid-career scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the field through their research. Also awarded annually is the Genetics Society Lecture to an active researcher who has made outstanding contributions to genetics. The JBS Haldane Lecture is awarded annually in recognition outstanding ability to communicate topical subjects in genetics research, widely interpreted, to an interested lay audience, and is usually held at the Royal Institution.
Public Understanding of Genetics
The Public Understanding of Genetics is also promoted via public lectures and the publication of a twice-yearly newsletter, while the interests and opinions of the genetics community are represented to governments and other public institutions.
The Society publishes two major international scientific journals: Heredity, concerned with cytogenetics, with ecological, evolutionary and biometrical genetics and also with plant and animal breeding; and Genes and Development, (jointly owned with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories) concerned with molecular and developmental aspects of genetics. The Genetics Society Newsletter is issued three times a year to inform members about meetings, symposia and topical items of interest.
Generous grants are available to support students and early career researchers to attend meetings and courses.
Six specialist interest areas are covered by elected Committee Members: Gene Structure, Function and Regulation; Genomics; Cell & Developmental Genetics; Applied and Quantitative Genetics; Evolutionary, Ecological and Population Genetics; Corporate Genetics and Biotechnology. The Committee Members are responsible for ensuring that the various local and national meetings cover all organisms within the broad spectrum of our members’ interests.
The Society has many overseas members and maintains links with genetic societies in other countries through the International Genetics Federation, the Federation of European Genetic Societies and through the International Union of Microbiological Societies.