During National Science Week, Quantum Victoria and Stem Cells Australia hosted a special forum for high school students where they were taken on a fabulous journey through the human genome. The students learnt how scientists are using genome mining to aid stem cell research and so much more.
Delivered by Associate Professor Christine Wells from AIBN at the University of Queensland and Dr Andrew Laslett from CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering, the forum provided an opportunity for students to gain a deeper understanding of the role of DNA and genetics - now and in the future.
They discussed how scientists are mining our DNA to address the big questions: How much do we really know about our genetic make-up? What can we decipher from the large gene collections available to the research community, and general public? How can we predict and prevent disease from this knowledge?
They also pondered privacy concerns and other consequences of exposing genetic information, and learnt about how understanding gene expression helps stem cell biologists develop safer therapies.
Although the last decade has seen the decoding of the human genome and the identification of over 20,000 human genes, we only have a limited understanding of the function of so many genes.
As A/Prof Wells stated, “We are still collecting and cataloguing the components that help us understand our universe – this includes understanding the complex and beautiful language of DNA".
We hope that this forum will encourage more Australian students to join Christine, Andrew and their colleagues in the quest to unlock the mysteries of the human genome. There is still so much to learn and explore.
The event was held at Quantum Victoria's Macleod West facility with 80 students joining us at the event and on-line. If you are interesting in viewing the footage from the Genome Mining event, please contact Quantum Victoria.
Christine Wells and Andrew Laslett are members of the Stem Cells Australia initiative with the core platform Stemformatics providing scientists with a fast way to find and visualise interesting genes.
The curious shall inherit the science world [AIBN News]