Public Release:  Bridging the gap between genomics and education

Modern genetics classroom resources from Nowgen

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Today the Nowgen Schools Genomics Programme website launches with a range of free, multi-media resources to update the study of modern genetics in schools and colleges.

Developments in genetics research have leapt from sequencing the human genome over ten years at a cost of $3 billion to sequencing a genome in days for just a few thousand dollars, while the genetics in classroom education have remained relatively static. The pace of research means that genomics, more than almost any other field, will have a significant impact on today's students, both in terms of their own health and the impact on wider society, so they need to have access to cutting-edge information. The Nowgen resources aim to bring cutting-edge research into the classroom, helping teachers and students explore the impact and potential of modern genetics.

Nowgen, a centre of excellence in public engagement, education and professional training in biomedicine, works closely with leading researchers to narrow the gap between genomics research and genetics education. The resources have been developed from a three-year project, the Nowgen Schools Genomics Programme, funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Dr Bella Starling, Nowgen, explains the aim of the project's resources: "We feel that students need to have access to information on modern genetics, both to enable them to understand the role of genetics in their everyday lives, and to inspire some to become scientists in the future. However, due to the restraints of time and curriculum, the genetics taught in most classrooms only covers traditional single-gene genetics and not the wider, modern study of genomics. We hope these new resources will help teachers and students explore the cutting-edge work being done in genomics that is already having an effect on healthcare and society today."

All the resources are free to access for teachers and students and can be used to enhance any post-16 biology course by encouraging students to explore and understand genomics and the impact developments in this field will have on society. Contributing researchers include: Professor Steve Jones, University College London; Professor John Harris, University of Manchester; and Professor Dian Donnai, University of Manchester. The videos, discussion ideas, teacher guides and student activities can support designated UK post-16 biology courses including: A level Science in Society; Perspectives on Science (Edexcel Extended Project); and the Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology (SNAB) A level. The resources also offer valuable insights into the work of researchers and so can be used as real-world career materials.

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All resources are available at: www.nowgen.org.uk/education

For more information: Nicola Hern, e: nicola@herncommunications.co.uk t: 07980 098652

Notes to Editors

The Nowgen Schools Genomics Programme

The Nowgen Schools Genomics Programme, supported by the Wellcome Trust, was launched in 2009 with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of presenting young people with key concepts in modern genetics and to promote changes in how genetics is taught in schools. By providing teachers with contexts, resources and mechanisms for introducing modern genetics into their teaching, the Nowgen Schools Genomics Programme aims to narrow the gap between scientific research and classroom learning. www.nowgen.org.uk/education

Nowgen

Nowgen is a centre of excellence in public engagement, education and professional training in biomedicine. It is part of the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, a partnership between Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester. Nowgen:

  • Leads public dialogue about biomedical science and its associated issues, enthuse citizens of the future about developments in biomedicine, and build on our reputation for patient involvement;
  • Delivers highly evaluated professional training in biomedicine and in innovative and developing technologies;
  • Improves the practice of genetic medicine and biomedical research through patient-centred studies and initiatives in service delivery;
  • Provides first class meeting and conference facilities and professional events management in our purpose-built centre.
www.nowgen.org.uk

The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests. www.wellcome.ac.uk

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