Well I never! / via Flickr

Festival of Genomics London kicks off tomorrow morning as ever is, but as is always the case with such a big name bash, the rumour mill is already spinning out of control! Ahead of the Festival we ask our speakers to share surprising or unusual facts about themselves, and some of this year’s submissions took us by surprise. Here are just some of the snippets that we overheard in the speakers’ lounge…

Did you know that Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer for England, used to compete in “a number of sports at a high level”? These include hockey, lacrosse and cricket, as well as nationally in athletics and cross country.

Catch Sue taking the Keynote by storm at 09:50am on 31st January with ‘How frontline healthcare is being transformed by genomics – the NHS experience’

More than a few of our speakers have secret alternate lives as musicians! Sir John Burn, professor of clinical genetics at Newcastle University, was apparently “given a drum kit on my 46th birthday. My friends and I formed a rock band called ‘Famous Last Words’”. Rock on my friend, rock on. 

John will be switching focus to genomics for his 04:10pm talk on 31st January entitled “DNA Differences: probably the most important medical advance”

Did you know that Andrew Bassett (Head of Research at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute) is a bit of a petrolhead? When not masterminding cellular operations at the Institute he can be found road rallying in old cars!

Genome editing will feature in Andrew’s 02:30pm presentation at on 31st January, ‘Beyond the gene’

More musical revelations came to light from David Parry-Smith, also from the Sanger Institute and group leader in stem cell informatics. David is “an accomplished classical organist and choral director.” And when time permits he is also “an Olympic weightlifter and CrossFit enthusiast”. Clearly I am not making the best use of my spare minutes – when time permits I like to lie on the sofa.

Leaving the organ loft for his presentation, David will be speaking on ‘Learning from high-throughput CRISPR experimental data’ at 02:20pm on 1st February.

Finally, have you ever wondered how to combine charitable giving, surfing, and a passion for fine facial hair? Of course you have. Joshua Stuart, professor of biomolecular engineering at UC Santa Cruz, has found a way. Joshua hosts “a “Surfin’ Staches” event every year to raise money for prostate cancer research.” We hear that “moustachioed men (and women!) make fools of themselves in the water to support this Santa Cruz tradition.”

Joshua (and maybe even some facial hair) will be speaking on ‘Personalized networks to find treatments for every cancer patient’.


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