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Leading Cancer Research Scientist at Bolton School

Thursday, 06 October 2011

Bolton School pupils were joined by students from other local schools for an inspiring evening lecture by one of the country's leading cancer research scientists - Professor Ross Sibson from the Department of Molecular and Clinical Cancer Medicine at Liverpool University.

Around 300 pupils and parents from Bolton School Girls' Division, Boys' Division, Canon Slade and Smithills School, gathered in the Girls' Division Great Hall to listen to Professor Sibson's talk entitled 'Astronomical Problems with our Genes?' The lecture aimed to give them a better understanding of genetics and was attended by pupils ranging from Year 10 up to Year 13. It was organised by the Girls' Division Learning Support Able and Talented enrichment programme, an ongoing programme which aims to enrich students' learning experience and develop their thinking skills.

Professor Sibson spoke to the pupils on the principles of genetics - how we can make use of genetic information to help understand our individual risk of developing disease and the possibility of genetics being able to contribute to future diagnosis and treatment. He discussed the factors which may increase the risk of developing certain diseases including Cancer and whether genetic or environmental factors are the dominant cause. He also spoke about developments in genetics and reading genetic information, along with the ethical, legal and social considerations that this brings, and students were given the opportunity to have their questions answered at the end.

Professor Sibson is part of the Liverpool Cancer Research UK Centre, which brings together scientists, doctors and nurses to boost key areas of research that will produce the greatest benefits for cancer patients in Liverpool, Merseyside and Cheshire. Previous to this, Professor Sibson helped set up the Human Genome Mapping project as part of a global effort to identify and navigate the genetic blueprint for man. He is now using that knowledge in the lab to work towards battling cancer, in a region with one of the highest prevalence's of the disease. Professor Sibson has predicted that the disease will be unrecognisable in terms of improved survival rates, better targeted and more effective treatment in the NW region in the next ten to 20 years - thanks to new work at a molecular level. He said: "I left the Genome Project to apply that science toward finding a cure for cancer.  It is powerful science and we're applying that to the real world here to help people across Merseyside and Cheshire. There is amazing and unrealised potential here. Things will change radically, and this is just the beginning."

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Professor Ross Sibson spoke to pupils from Bolton School, Canon Slade and Smithills

Professor Ross Sibson spoke to pupils from Bolton School, Canon Slade and Smithills

Professor Ross Sibson

He spoke of the possibility of genetics being able to contribute to future diagnosis and treatment of cancer

Professor Ross Sibson