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Genetics - Revolutionary Impact on Science and Society

The University of Leicesterís Department of Genetics is internationally recognised for pioneering, revolutionary research. In particular, the discovery of genetic fingerprinting has had profound implications for society over the past twenty years as well as for the advancement of science. Continuing innovative research is coupled with high-quality training of scientists and promotion of the public understanding of science.

The University of Leicesterís Department of Genetics is an international centre of excellence-the only 5* rated Genetics department in the UK (Research Assessment Exercise 2001). Through excellence and public impact of research and its synergy between research and teaching, the Department has a major influence in the field of genetics and public awareness of science.

DNA fingerprinting was invented in the Department by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys and applications in immigration, paternity testing, and criminal investigation have affected the lives of thousands of people worldwide. It has led to the development of powerful technologies to study heritable DNA changes and continues impacting on genetics research. A prime example is the Departmentís work on the genetic risks of exposure to radioactive contamination following the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster.

Other pioneering research in the Department includes investigation of DNA defects in many inherited disorders, including inherited deafness, and common diseases such as psoriasis and eczema, impacting directly on patient welfare. Important research into infectious disease includes identification of genes affecting virulence of Campylobacter, one of the most significant bacterial organisms causing food-borne gastrointestinal disease. Work using model organisms such as fruitflies and yeast is also having an impact on human welfare - it identifies fundamental processes involved in behaviour and human diseases such as cancer.

Genetic fingerprinting has fired the imagination of the public, bringing an understanding of DNA into everyday life. The Department is continuing promotion of public awareness with an extensive programme of radio/television appearances and publications aimed at the general public. The Department also runs adult education courses, taster courses and work experience for local schools and colleges.

The Department provides an exciting and challenging environment for study at graduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral levels. It runs undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in medicine, biological sciences and medical genetics reflecting the dynamic synergy between its research and teaching.

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: 25 August 2004 11:40
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