14 talks and 41 posters provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the Institute’s research on rare diseases, haematology, immunology and infection, stem cells and developmental biology and cancer biology.
A particular highlight of the day was the student session, where 6 students (selected at the student day earlier in the year) competed for the Ita Askonas Medal. The topics ranged from computational biology and gene regulation to ovarian cancer and innate immunity, showcasing the high level of research conducted by our DPhil students. The overall winner was Martyna Lukoseviciute (Sauka-Spengler group) for her talk on the dual role of Foxd3 in neural crest development, work recently published in Developmental Cell. A special mention was given to the talks by Caz Harrold (Hughes and Higgs group, MRC MHU) and Jonny Hertzog (Rehwinkel group, MRC HIU). The first place in the poster prize was awarded to Lance Hentges (Hughes group, MRC WIMM Centre for Computational Biology), with joint second places awarded to Louise Johnson (Jackson group, MRC HIU) and Lei Li (Porcher group, MRC MHU).
The 8th Weatherall Lecture was delivered by Prof Richard Henderson from the MRC LMB in Cambridge. Named after our founder, Prof Sir Weatherall, the lecture has, over the years, attracted speakers of the highest calibre. Prof Henderson took us on a journey covering the history of the development of cryoEM, the technique for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017.
Celebrating diversity and public engagementThe symposium was also an opportunity to highlight some of the best examples of engagement with the public by researchers from across the Institute. The individual prize (£300 Amazon vouchers and £300 towards a public engagement activity or conference) was awarded to Layal Liverpool from the Rehwinkel group (MRC HIU). Layal impressed the judges by the sheer number of events in which she participated, and in particular for her Facebook LIVE Event, done in partnership with her lab colleague Mirjam Schilling, which had over 6,000 views and allowed school students and interested members of the public to ask questions live on air. Martin Larke from the Hughes and Higgs groups (MRC MHU) received an honourable mention, in particular for his organisation of a school visit by St Gregory the Great School. The inspiring visit later encouraged students from the school to apply for our work experience programme.
The team prize was awarded to the Genome Editing team, a cross-MRC WIMM team that developed a stand on the topic of genome editing. Introducing both the technique and how it is being used across the institute, it featured in a variety of events, including the MRC Festival of Medical Research 2018 and the Royal Institution Family Fun Day in 2019. To inspire others to get involved, this year's WIMM day also included the display of some of the public engagement resources developed by our researchers during the breaks.
This year also saw the first Diversity in Science awards, a new award that is run by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, chaired by Prof Catherine Porcher. The committee asked for nominations from across the institute, and the two very worthy winners were Jill Brown (Buckle group, MRC MHU) and Erdinc Sezgin (Eggeling group, MRC HIU). The award recognised their efforts to support others and increase diversity in science, both within and outside the institute.