MRC Human Genetics Unit
Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit

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Tours, Talks and Tea Party - people-powered genetic research

For the MRC Festival of Medical Research, the MRC Human Genetics Unit celebrated research findings that public participation in Generation Scotland has made possible: June 2018

MRC Festival balcony image of chatting and drinks

Generation Scotland is a resource of human biological samples and other data from 24,000 participants recruited between 2006 and 2011, available for medical research. Generation Scotland aims to create more effective treatments, based on gene research, for the medical, social and economic benefit of Scotland and its people. Generation Scotland is based in the Centre for Genomic & Experimental Medicine (CGEM), within the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) at the University of Edinburgh and much of the research using this biobank data is undertaken by researchers from the Institute’s MRC Human Genetics Unit.

As part of the MRC Festival of Medical Research, the MRC Human Genetics Unit wished to celebrate the diverse research findings that simply would not have been possible without public participation in the Generation Scotland biobank.

Generation Scotland participants were invited to attend two biobank events during June 2018. The first on Sunday 10 June, was coordinated by the Centre of Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh - “Celebrating Your Contribution to Scottish Cohort Studies”. This gathering of over 300 biobank participants was held within the General Assembly at the Mound in Edinburgh. At this event, the Human Genetics Unit filmed interviews with Generation Scotland participants to find out why they had decided to join this biobank and what benefits they felt participation provided them, their families and the wider population of Scotland.

The 45 Generation Scotland participants attending this event were also invited to a second biobank event within the MRC IGMM on Saturday 23 June. This Human Genetics Unit event for the MRC Festival focused on celebrating their contribution to Generation Scotland Studies and we were delighted to show them around the IGMM, where much of the research using their data is undertaken and present five talks, as well as premiering the 2 videos that were filmed on Sunday 10 June.

Professor David Porteous OBE, who conceived and initiated Generation Scotland, provided a comprehensive overview of this population and family-based study of how genes, lifestyle and the environment influence disease and wellbeing. 300 research teams work with Generation Scotland and so far 180 research papers have been published.

Dr Carmen Amador, Research Scientist, Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) programme, outlined research on the regional differences in obesity within Scotland, Christina Joseph, a PhD student in the Human Genetics Unit described a Scottish Family Health Study. The programme of talks was closed by Professor Jim Wilson, MRC Human Genetics Unit and the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics who described the genetic ancestry of Scotland and the British Isles.

After watching the 2 new videos, everyone chatted animatedly together on the sun-soaked balcony, enjoying a delicious prosecco cream tea, provided by Mimi's Bakehouse, the Scottish Bakery Cafe of the Year 2017-18!

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MRC Festival collage