Monday, 16 July 2012

Understanding Genetics - and supporting local businesses

I had a fascinating morning learning about cutting edge studies into genetics at the Sanger Institute just outside Cambridge.  

It was particularly interesting to learn about their part in a global project mapping out how breast cancer affects different gene types and how this will lead to personalised therapies in the future.  Also I learnt about latest studies on Malaria and how again genetics is helping to understand the disease better and find cures.  It was very helpful to listen to the researcher who co-ordinates this type of multi-centered cross-boarder research projects and to understand some of her bureaucratic problems.

The Sanger Institute is largely funded by the Wellcome trust and the European Bioinformatics Institute is located on the same site.  We also discussed the growing need for vast quantities of data processing as more and more information of genetics becomes available.  Sanger have contributed some write ups of case studies for a booklet we are writing on international collaboration in science and innovation.  We hope these will be published to share at party conference in the autumn.

Day three of my "buy local" pledge has had upsides and downsides.  The local post office sorted me out with bread, papers and drycleaning (but no shoe polish). Yesterdays roast chicken from the local butcher was delicious and I had hoped to add locally bought vegetables to the remaining stock to make soup for supper.  However the first "farm shop" I passed in a garden centre was rather disappointing with mostly imported fruit and veg, just some Lincolnshire carrots.  Cambridge market yielded up some local peas in pods, spring onions  and strawberries (mine have gone rotten due to the wet) - but then I got home to find that the stock had been thrown away in a well intended kitchen clean up.  So its lamb chops from the butcher instead.

Seriously I've had a very worrying email about diseases which appear to be spreading through our wheat crop due to the wet weather.  Around the world wheat harvests have been very poor, it will be very expensive for consumers and dreadful for farmers if our own crop fails.  

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