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Upton Hall School

Inspiring Young People

Biology Christmas Lectures - Thursday 1 December 2016

Read Anna's experience at the Biology Christmas Lectures which were held at the University of Liverpool on Thursday 1 December 2016

On the 1st of December 2016, myself and a group of other upper sixth students went on a trip to the University of Liverpool to see the biology Christmas lectures. Three professors from the university ran the lectures: Professor Jay Hinton, Dr Dada Pisconti and Dr James Hartwell. This is what they talked about:

Professor Jay Hinton- “It’s amazing you’re not dead yet!”

Jay Hinton is a professor of Microbial Pathogenesis. His interest in the way that bacterial pathogens cause disease in humans led him to work on Salmonella. He discovered that the H-NS protein is responsible for silencing gene expression in bacteria, and pioneered an approach that revealed a "snapshot" of bacterial gene expression during the process of infection of mammalian cells.

In his lecture we learnt many things:

  • 8 million people are killed by bacteria every year
  • There are some types of bacteria that are “friendly” and protect against disease. “Friendly E. Coli produces vitamin B7 and vitamin K in your gut
  • The average person has one thousand million million or 1kg of friendly bacteria in them- about the equivalent of can of baked beans
  • There are many ways to prevent further infection and disease including: vaccination and sanitation. Cholera can be prevented by filtering it through sari cloth.

Dr Dada Pisconti:

Dr Dada Pisconti is a lecturer of biochemistry. She was born and raised in Italy. She received a Laurea degree in Biological Sciences in 1999 from the University of Perugia with an honours thesis in Electrophysiology, and her Ph.D. in Cell Biology in 2003 from the University of Bari, School of Medicine with a dissertation in Immuno-senescence. She then moved to San Raffaele Scientific Research Institute in Milan where she carried out a postdoc in Pharmacology and Cell Signalling. Here she became interested in muscle stem cell biology and molecular mechanisms of skeletal muscle development and regeneration and muscular dystrophy. At the end of 2005, she moved to the United States to work in the laboratory of Brad Olwin, a world leader in muscle stem cell biology, at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 2011 she was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship that allowed her to further pursue her interest in muscle stem cells at the University of Liverpool.

            Her lecture was about different cells in the body and differential gene expression that drives cell specialisation.

Dr James Hartwell:

Dr James Hartwell is a senior lecturer in Plant Metabolism. His interests span the fields of plant molecular biology and biochemistry, and whole plant physiology. The focus of his research is understanding the molecular and biochemical basis for the circadian control of primary metabolic pathways in plants.

His lecture was all about the photosynthesis of plants and the development of novel non-food crops as biofuel feedstock suited to seasonally dry land. We also learnt about how, if the world’s population continues rising how it is now, by 2050 there will be 10 billion people on this earth. This will lead to a shortage of food and open space for food crops to grow.