News in 2012

 07/12/12 - GENIE and New Walk Museum's Collaboration on the News!

Dr Cas Kramer was featured on East Midlands News talking about the collaborative project between GENIE and New Walk Museum. Read more here.

 12/11/12 - GENIE Represented at ISSOTL 2012

Suzanne Lavelle and Craig Bartle from Genie recently attended the ISSOTL 12 Conference (International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) which took place between October 24th and October 27th, 2012 in the city of Hamilton, Canada. Both presented well-received papers on two distinct GENIE projects.

Suzanne presented the findings from the SWIFT project, which investigated the use of virtual laboratories for teaching undergraduates.  The SWIFT project was a 3-year collaborative project, between the Beyond Distance Research Alliance and  GENIE, and was funded by the Higher Education Academy under the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme.  For the SWIFT project, two virtual laboratories were created in Second Life; the first one was a health and safety lab, used to teach laboratory safety to first year undergraduates, and the second one, a genetics testing lab, enabled first year medical students to perform virtual tests for genetically inherited diseases.  The third virtual space created was a problem-based learning scenario for second year medical students, guiding them through the processes of making a medically important protein.  The findings from all three sessions were presented at ISSOTL12.  Students overwhelmingly enjoyed their time in the virtual labs, and they viewed them as real learning environments.  In some cases, students who had visited the virtual labs, performed better than those that did not, but the reasons for their improved performance was not clear-cut and needs further investigation.

If you would like to look around the SWIFT virtual lab, and you already have a Second Life account, click here; if you're new to Second Life, we have an easy-to-follow introduction click here.

Craig presented the results from a project that was carried out at the University of Leicester between November 2011 and May 2012 examining staff and students’ perceptions of what employability skills are and where they can be found in the student experience.  Craig’s paper also focused on the project’s methodology which demonstrated the effectiveness of staff-student collaborations; a research team of nine students, seven members of staff from the Students’ Union Education Unit and eight members of staff from GENIE and the four colleges across the University, worked together throughout the project and successfully produced a set of specific guidelines to develop and improve the ways in which employability skills can be embedded within the curriculum. Following the paper, several conference delegates expressed an interest in undertaking similar collaborative research within their institutions and were particularly impressed with the students’ enthusiasm for the project.

 01/12/12 - GENIE's Dr Cas Kramer awarded Science Communication prize

Congratulations to Cas for being Highly Commended in the 2012 Society of Biology Science Communication Awards in the Established Researcher Category. The Awards rewarded outreach work carried out by young scientists and established researchers to inform, enthuse and engage sections of the general public. The judges looked at programmes of activities which demonstrated to have brought good quality science to non-academic audiences in engaging ways that are likely to foster a lasting interest in biology.

22/10/12 - Fifth Public Engagement Lecture Well AttendedPublic Engagement Lecture Oct 2012

Thank you to Professor Borts and Dr Giorgini for two really interesting and informative talks at our fifth public engagement lecture.  The evening sparked lots of discussion and we are grateful to Marco Narajos for his kind review.



13/09/12 - Another Successful Dynamic DNA

Dynamic DNA 2012  Read more about this year's two day school's event

08/08/12 - Team GENIE Half Marathon Contenders

GENIE Team Running Rutland Water
GENIE Half Marathon Team Photo

GENIE has entered a team of six in this year’s Leicester Half Marathon which takes place on the 14th October.  Our six runners - Craig Bartle, David Cane, Colin Glen, Aneela Majid, Jon Ordish and James Wilson - are hoping to raise money for two charities.  The first is the UKCLL Forum, an organisation that aims to bring together everyone with an interest in CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) and in particular to bridge the gap between the clinical and scientific aspects of the disease.  The second is a local charity, HOPE Against Cancer, which has been has been raising money for cancer research in Leicestershire and Rutland since 2002.  You can follow Team GENIE’s progress through their blog and also on our Facebook and Twitter pages.  Access our sponsorship page  

06/08/2012 - Headstart Interdisciplinary Science Summer School

GENIE ran an afternoon session as part of the Headstart Interdisciplinary Science Summer School. Twenty-eight A level students took part in the session entitled “Extremes of Life on earth and beyond …” which focused on the origins of life on earth and the search for life on other planets. Students were given an introduction to laboratory techniques used to analyse microbial DNA and played an educational game “War  of the Worlds”  which explores the possibility on extreme life from earth colonising other planets. Read more about the event 

30/06/12 - HERO Health Lab at University Alumni Summer Reunion 2012

University of Leicester alumni and their families had the chance to take part in some of HERO’s fun healthy eating and exercise activities as well as learn about GENIE and how we all vary genetically at the annual Summer Reunion.  Read more about the event


20/06/12 – Lifestyle and Cancer Awareness Workshop: Survivorship and Prevention in Families

The first Lifestyle and Cancer Awareness workshop took place on Wednesday 20th June and was well attended by patients, relatives and friends as well as a number of organisations working with and for people with cancer.  The event, hosted by GENIE as part of the HERO project, is just one component of the Supporting Families with Cancer project, which is collaboration between Macmillan, Clinical Genetics and other services at University Hospitals of Leicester, the Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine and GENIE.  The workshop followed on a successful training day for NHS staff led by Dr Julian Barwell.
Read more about the events.

 17/4/12 and 27/4/12- Visit from Bosworth Academy

Recently we ran some molecular biology taster sessions for two sets of students from Bosworth Academy.  The sessions were intended to give the students an idea of how DNA technology can be used outside of research.  For the first session, the students took part in a meiosis card game where they are able to see the effects of random recombination events and how this creates an infinite variety in our DNA during meiosis.  After this, they used DNA fingerprinting techniques to solve a crime where they were matching basic DNA fingerprints to DNA found at a crime scene.  Finally, the students did an activity where they could see how their genetic make-up can be traced back to ancestors from all over the world. The crime scene activity can be found on our Virtual Genetics Education Centre website and can be downloaded and used by anyone.

The second session focussed more on DNA fingerprinting and profiling.  The students got hands on experience of using micropipettes to load agarose gels and learned how DNA is amplified and analysed.  They were able to take pictures of their gels and use this to solve the crime scene activity.


4-20/4/2012- Dr Goodwin visits Nara Womens' University

Read about Dr Goodwins' visit

12-13/4/12- GENIE presents at HEA STEM conference

Two members of the GENIE team (Professor Annette Cashmore and Dr Cas Kramer) presented papers at the Higher Education Academy Science Technology, Engineering and Maths Conference at Imperial College London. Prof Cashmore spoke about "Development and Evaluation of the Use of Second Life in Biomedical Science Laboratory Teaching" and Dr Kramer about "An Educational Board Game for Teaching Basic Concepts of Evolution to Undergraduate Students". Both talks generated a significant level of nterest at the meeting and will hopefully lead to future collaborations.

12/4/12 and 27/4/12- GENIE learns about Chatbots

Suzanne Lavelle and Raymond Dalgleish went on a two day training course held at Daden Ltd in Birmingham.  The course involved learning how to author a chatbot, which will reside in the virtual genetics testing lab in Second Life. The bot will be created over the next few months.

29/03/12 - HERO focus on food with events and focus group for students in March

HERO ran two Food@Uni events for University of Leicester students to learn about Easy Eating to Support Student Life. 

Exchange student Abbey Woolverton receives her prize from RACS Retail, Events and Hospitality Manager Jane Rhoden and HERO Research Assistant Joanne Singletary
Exchange student Abbey Woolverton receives her prize from RACS Retail, Events and Hospitality Manager Jane Rhoden and HERO Research Assistant Joanne Singletary

These new events were supported by the Student Healthy Living Service and Residential and Commercial Services and aim to improve students' healthy eating knowledge, awareness, attitudes and diets and to raise the profile of healthy eating across the university.  Following the events we ran a focus group with students to find out more about the issues regarding eating and nutrition faced by students.  This invaluable inforamtion will help us to work with students to design, produce and evaluate resources and events that meet these needs.

Read more about the events and project

One lucky student who attended the Food@Uni event at S-bar in Oadby Student Village won a £10 le card in the prize draw courtesy of Residential and Commercial Services.

21/03/12- GENIE supports student entry to iGEM competition

The iGEM competition is an annual international competition for undergraduates to spend their summer vacation working in real laboratories to build "genetically engineered machines" - i.e. usually modified bacteria that do some useful work (sense chemicals, perform novel chemical reactions etc). These are built from a catalogue of standard open source DNA "parts" supplied by iGEM.
This year, for the first time, the University of Leicester is entering a team to the competition comprised of 10 second year undergraduates. The team is being hosted by the Department of Genetics, but draws the team from across Biological Sciences degree streams. The team is being supervised by Dr Richard Badge and Dr Raymond Dalgleish of the Department of Genetics, but the project has been devised by and will be carried out entirely by the students. They have decided to try address a major environmental pollutant expanded polystyrene and try to build an organism that can degrade this material into useful chemical building blocks that can be cheaply and efficiently recycled, something that is simply not economically possible at the moment.
Preparations and fundraising are well underway but the team needs all the support it can get - you can follow the students progress at their blog or email them on

 13/03/12- 4th Public Lecture

Public Engagement Lecture 2012

The 4th GENIE public lecture was a huge success with over a 100 people attending.  The first talk was given by Professor Martin Tobin, who spoke about lung health, outlining the advances made in this area and how this information could be used to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment. In the second talk, Dr Salvador Macip posed the intriguing concept that cancer and aging could be two sides of the same coin.  Both talks were really well received and promoted some interesting discussion at the end.  Feedback from both talks was overwhelmingly positive with nearly 90% of attendees saying they would definitely attend future events. The talks were described as ‘amazing’ and ‘inspiring’ by two 6th form students.  We hope to have the talks available as podcasts soon, but for anyone interested, the slides from both talks are available on request via .


10/03/12 - Society of Biology Poster Competition

GENIE once again hosted the Society of Biology East Midlands Branch Regional Schools Biology Poster Competition on Saturday 10 March 2012 to celebrate National Science & Engineering Week 2012. The event was very well attended, with high qualilty entries. Read more about the winner.

02/03/12 - Food@Uni - Easy Eating for Student Life

Food@Uni survey prizeCongratulation to first year Engineering student Evan Rowbottom for winning the prize draw after completing our recent Food at Uni survey.

HERO is working with the Student Healthy Living Service and Residential and Commercial Services to run two events for students in March based on the results of the survey.  University of Leicester students are invited to come along and learn more about all things food-related that will support their student life.  To find out more or to register for the events visit the Food at Uni page.

19/01/12 - Health Education Reaching Out (HERO) for a second year

Three more groups of Year 8 students from local schools visited the University in December and January to learn about healthy living as part of the HERO Schools Project.  Students worked though hands-on activities with the help of staff and students from the Department of Genetics to encourage them to think about their own diets and activity levels.
The HERO team, ably supported by staff and post-graduate students from the Department, also visited the schools to deliver the health activities in the classroom.

11/01/2012-Visit from Meningitis Research Foundation 

Visitors from the Meningitis Research Foundation came to the Genetics department to see how research into the disease is undertaken. As part of their visit they toured GENIE and had the opportunity take part in our educational activities.

Read more about the event ...

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