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September 14, 2010

Genomics News
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» Science award for rap video

Congratulations to colleagues in the GPU that have been working on the GAMY project – Dr. Rachel Iredale, Kim Madden and Nicki Taverner. The Genetics Rap video that they commissioned from Jon Chase (aka Oort Kuiper) as part of their work has just been voted ‘Judges Choice’ in the recent The Scientist 2010 Labby Multimedia Awards – video section Judges comments included Jeffery Segall (Professor of anatomy and structural biology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York): Had me wanting to dance—must be in my genes! Nigel Holmes (legendary graphic designer and founder of Explanation Graphics, a graphic design firm in New York): The most fun and the most original; and the science is right there too. Very nice!

If you are looking to engage people (young and old) in genetic science then try the video – the students we’ve shown it to love it!

May 3, 2010

Genomics News
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» The GAMY Project reports its findings to the AGNC

Last year, Dr Rachel Iredale was invited to the annual conference of the Association of Genetic Nurses and Counsellors (AGNC) to talk about the GAMY (Genetics and Merthyr Youth) Project which is investigating young people’s attitudes to genetics. At that time, we were still collecting data from the project participants, so she was not able to provide much information about our results.

Last week, Nicki Taverner took a poster outlining the project’s findings to this year’s AGNC conference at St George’s Medical School, London. There was a high level of interest from attendees, with several remembering Rachel’s talk from the previous year and wanting to hear the results from the project. We were able to report that the young people’s genetic literacy had increased from participation in the project, as they had developed greater understanding of the relevance of genetics to their health and the confidence to debate genetics issues. They had strong opinions about some aspects of genetics, such as feeling that sex selection of embryos is “wrong”, but were more thoughtful about other areas, such as the severity of a genetic condition that would warrant termination.

Conference attendees were impressed with some of the outputs created by participants to express their ideas about genetics using creative media. One also asked if we had needed to supply a second digital camera to participants, and was pleased to hear that we had not! They were also interested to hear that the project resources are being developed into formats that can be used by community workers to promote better health, alongside other public health strategies.

The conference itself was very interesting, with sessions discussing the use of genetic testing for treatment decisions, talking to children about genetics, the potential impact of previous sexual abuse on genetic counselling clients and the development of a tool to evaluate clients’ assessment of the impact of genetic counselling. It was also a good opportunity to talk to many practitioners working in the field and discuss the future direction of the profession.

October 27, 2008

Genomics News
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» GPU Lords it!

The work of the GPU is getting something of an airing at the House of Lords. Two weeks ago, the GAMY project was mentioned during the hearing of the House of Lords Science and Technology Sub Committee on Genomic Medicine, as an excellent example of work going on to engage young people in genetics. Last week, Prof Maggie Kirk was invited to give evidence to the same committee later in November. The evidence submitted by Maggie and myself from the NHS National Genetics Education and Development Centre Nursing Team, has been ‘read with interest’ and their lordships would like to hear more.

October 13, 2008

Genomics News
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» Dabbling with DNA

On Saturday 4th October, the GAMY project took a trip down to Techniquest in Cardiff Bay to spend some time dabbling with our DNA. We were a bit bleary-eyed as we set off from Merthyr in the morning, but soon livened up when we got into the lab and put on some white coats like proper scientists! We took swabs from the inside of our cheeks (yes, that’s what we’re doing in the photograph!) and then extracted our DNA from these cheek cells. The procedure was quite straightforward and Jo explained it all clearly as we went along, though we did have to trust her that something was happening as we couldn’t really see anything changing in our test tubes. She also told us a bit more about DNA and chromosomes – who would have thought that we were so closely related to flies?!

The final step of adding alcohol to precipitate the DNA needed a steady hand, and some of us were steadier than others. However, we could all see some white bits of DNA graudally appearing – our very own DNA! The final step of transferring the DNA into a necklace caused some difficulties as the DNA seemed to be stuck fast to the tube, but we all managed to get there in the end, and wore our necklaces with pride, even though no-one else would know what was in them! We finished off our trip with some lunch and a bit of time to look around Techniquest – an enjoyable and educational trip.

Dabbling with DNA – link to photo

June 30, 2008

Genomics News
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» GAMY on the radio

GAMY was on Science Cafe on BBC Radio Wales last week. One of our participants has captured the audio and made it into a video by incorporating both pictures of the project and images of genetics she has found online and put it on MySpace. Radio Interview
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May 2, 2008

Genomics News
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» The National DNA Database on Trial: Avoiding the Usual Suspects

Dr Rachel Iredale from the Genomics Policy Unit, Faculty of Health, Sport and Science at the University of Glamorgan has been awarded £27,914 by the Wellcome Trust for a project entitled ‘The National DNA Database on Trial: Avoiding the Usual Suspects’.

The project will focus on young people aged 16-19 who have been convicted of a criminal offence and whose details are already on the National DNA database. These young people will be drawn from the Vale of Glamorgan, mainly, Barry, and will work together to put the National DNA Database on trial.

The charge is: ‘That the National DNA Database is an unacceptable infringement of civil liberties’. All the roles at this Trial (jurors, witnesses, prosecution and defence) will be played by these young people. The Trial will take place in November 2008 in order to coincide with Inside Justice week and it is being undertaken in conjunction with The Wales Gene Park, Techniquest and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University NHS Trust.

This project is timely as it coincides with a public consultation recently launched by the Human Genetics Commission who will be reporting on the forensic use of DNA and genetic information to government later this year. The Human Genetics Commission has estimated that 25% of the male population and 7% of the female population will soon be on the National DNA database.

Dr Rachel Iredale, Principal Investigator for the project says “the project will enable these young people to think about the National DNA Database in ways they may not have previously done. They will acquire an understanding during the course of the project about genetic issues that make personal sense to them and which are located within their own particular environments”.

Strategies for disseminating the results of this project will be driven by participants and will include informing the Human Genetics Commission of their ‘verdict’.

For further information contact: Rachel Iredale Genomics Policy Unit Faculty for Health, Sport and Science University of Glamorgan Pontypridd CF37 1DL Tel: 01443-483075 Email: riredale@glam.ac.uk

» GAMY Project website

I have just bought a domain name. Click on www.gamyproject.org.uk to check it out. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks. Rachel

April 23, 2008

Genomics News
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» GAMY Project

Participants in the GAMY Project get to grips with the ‘web of issues’ surrounding genetics!

» Jo's Blog

Working on Genetic Literacy project with GPU – on a 1 day a week secondment from Techniquest, Cardiff Bay.

Well busy first day in the office, have been welcomed with open arms by the project team and shown the most important bits, the tea room, toilet and how to pay for my parking. I am really enjoying it so far. We ran an introductory event for participants last Friday, got lots of data and we are now starting to sift through it all. Today I have been mostly, jotting down my thoughts on the intro day, as always I have lots of thoughts, I always have lots to say and I tend to have an opinion on most things! I’ve also been looking through the initial participant questionnaires on what they feel about genetics and illness in their family. There are already some really juicy things coming out of the responses and lots that we could really get our teeth into from a research point of view. My pet topic is how people make sense of the world, where they get their information from and how they formulate this into a working model. I’m already starting to see some interesting bits from the data, particularly how the participants have defined “genetic disease” and “genetics” generally. I’m not going to say much more until I have had a chance to crystallize some more bits from the data. I am also thinking about the GAMY project website, looking at data analysis, topics that the participants are interested in and lastly the not so very minor task of defining genetic literacy.

April 21, 2008

Genomics News
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» The GAMY project is launched!

The Wellcome funded project looking at young people’s attitudes towards genetics enjoyed a successful introductory Day on the 4th of April. It was held at the Castle Hotel in Merthyr and after a few nervous flutters went without a hitch. We succeded in recruiting 19 participants aged between 16 and 19 and a good day was had by all.

As promised the participants were allowed to choose their own name for the project. Despite supplying them with the rather ‘creative’ acronyms already put forward by University staff they choose to call themselves the GAMY Project which represents Genetics and Merthyr Youth.

The project team (Rachel, Kim, Nicki, Jo and Maria) would like to express their thanks to all those who helped make the day a success.