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Genomics Forum · News

Global pandemics, science in literature and the importance of biotechnology to Scotland...



Genomics Forum announces diverse and engaging events for the autumn.


The has today [Friday 5 October] announced its autumn 2012 season of events. These will cover topics as diverse as: tackling global pandemics in the age of social media; how modern fiction authors represent science in their work; and whether encouraging young people into careers in the life sciences could help make Scotland a bio-technology world leader.

The programme commences with the Café Scientifique event - taking place at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse Café on 23 October 2012 – which will examine how cultural anxieties about pandemics, such as 2009’s “swine” flu outbreak and the continuing threat posed by the SARS virus, are increasingly being shaped by globalisation and developments in digital media and surveillance technologies.

Event speaker, and Genomics Forum visiting research fellow, Professor Marina Levina, said:

“Modern digital technology means that we increasingly respond to the threats from disease pandemics very differently to how we would have done a decade ago. This event will examine how the way we deal with pandemics is no longer about policing national boundaries, but rather about managing flows of information and bodies across the globe.”

On Saturday 3 November, Cell Culture will feature both fact and fiction in an event – taking place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre – that examines how modern literature portrays life sciences and genetics. Leading authors – including: celebrated science fiction writer ; biologist, editor of Lablit.com, and author of Experimental Heart Dr Jennifer Rohn; and short story writer, and Genomics Forum Writer-in-Residence – will discuss how science can influence their work in a number of different ways, and read examples of this.

Speaking in advance of the Cell Culture event, former Genomics Forum Writer-in-Residence Ken MacLeod – whose latest novel Intrusion has been nominated for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize 2012 – said:

“Historically, science has frequently featured in literature, as Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine illustrate. In modern fiction, writers are increasingly using science in their work in new and diverse ways.

“I’m really looking forward to participating in the Cell Culture event, which will provide an opportunity to discuss with fellow authors how science, fiction, and society are now so frequently, yet diversely inter-linked.”

The importance of biotechnology to engaging young people in science, rebuilding the UK economy, and potentially establishing Scotland as a world leader in life sciences will be considered at The Revolution Will Be Bio-based… which is being produced by the Genomics Forum in association with .

Being held at the University of Edinburgh’s Appleton Tower on Saturday 10 November, this event will appeal to both young people interested in biological sciences, and those engaged by the potential future importance of biotechnology.

Not only will the event – which forms part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science – feature practical demonstrations of DIY-Bio and biotechnology processes, it will also provide an opportunity to discuss the impact life sciences are having upon education, the economy, and Scottish society, in a series of “TED” style pop-debates.

Commenting on The Revolution Will be Bio-based… Genomics Forum Director, said:

“Biotechnology is increasingly important to both our economy and Scottish society, with many recent advances in the life sciences – such as the cloning of Dolly the Sheep – resulting from Scottish-based research.

“This event will provide an opportunity to debate how we should look to develop Scottish life sciences in the future, in order to maximise their benefit to Scottish society. It will also enable young people to explore how engaging biotechnology – including DIY-bio – can be, which is highly important if we are going to develop Scotland as a world leader in the life sciences.”


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