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DNA: Inspiring building blocks that made me a learner in perpetuity

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You are mutating. As you read this abstract, the amazing genetic building blocks that code for the proteins that make you the person you are today, are not sitting stably, expressing the pristine perfection of your Cambridge-educated being. It transpires that your DNA is mutating all the time. And that’s only one of the completely absorbing reasons that got me into clinical research and mutagenesis. Some of the extensive amount of mutagenesis that you carry in your DNA is perfectly benign, but some of it could be indicative of biological processes going awry in your cells. Come and find out how my team explores mutagenesis and how we develop our insights into clinical algorithms for improved patient stratification for the future.

Speaker profile:

Dr Serena Nik-Zainal is a CRUK Advanced Clinician Scientist and an Honorary Consultant in Clinical Genetics. Dr Nik-Zainal qualified in Medicine from the University of Cambridge in 2000 on a scholarship from Petronas, Malaysia. She undertook a PhD at the Wellcome Sanger Institute (WSI) in 2009 exploring breast cancer using whole genome sequencing (WGS). Her detailed analysis revealed imprints left by the mutagenic processes that occurred during cancer development. Dr Nik-Zainal moved to the University of Cambridge in order to accelerate the translation of her genomics expertise towards clinical applications and to further her work into the physiological mechanisms underpinning mutagenesis. Most recently, Dr Nik-Zainal was awarded the prestigious Dr Josef Steiner Cancer Research Prize in 2019 for her work in cancer genomics.

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