Big Data Zone

Our final zone in the 2014 Big Data Season is funded by the Science & Technology Facilities Council and will explore how computing is applied not only to biology, but also in other areas like astronomy, particle physics or meteorology. Researchers working at the STFC use computers to store and analyse data to measure atmospheric conditions, develop new weather forecaster models, look out at the stars or understand cancer better. They work together with scientists from other centres in huge international collaborations which produce immense amounts of data that lead to ground breaking discoveries: like the finding of the Higgs boson thanks to the data produced at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. If you are a scientist working on the field, and you’d like to take part in the Big Data Zone, apply here. If you are a teacher, and you want to get your students enthused about Big Data, … Continue reading

Posted on September 10, 2014 by modangela in News | Leave a comment

Big Data Debate Kit is out!

The Big Data Debate Kit discusses whether we should sequence the genomes of one million people, to find out more about living longer and healthier lives. The aim of this educational resource is to explore the social, ethical and political issues behind mass genome sequencing. It contains 8 debate cards outlining the opinions of fictional characters with an interest in a human genome sequencing, and teacher notes to help you to carry out the lesson effectively. We have sent our first batch of debate kits, but we still have more to be sent to different schools in the UK and Ireland. Click here for more information and to sign up to receive your free copy!

Posted on September 10, 2014 by modangela in News | Leave a comment

Genomics and Bioinformatics Zones: Evaluation Report

In June 2014, we teamed up with The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) to run two Big Data themed zones: The Genomics Zone and the Bioinformatics Zone, each featuring at least two TGAC scientists. And these were our main findings: The students were interested in the scientists: Students read the scientist profiles and asked about the research of each individual scientist. They were also very keen to learn more about the scientists; daily lives and hobbies, as well about their opinions on topical issues like animal testing. Students were interested in Genomics and Bioinformatics: Two difficult subjects which many of the students might not have been familiar with before the event. In fact, one teacher in the Genomics zone said she was pleasantly surprised with the level of the students’ questions and how the scientists explained what genomics is. The Bioinformatics and Genomics Zones exposed students to the new trends in biology: Students … Continue reading

Posted on July 30, 2014 by modangela in News | Leave a comment

Bioinformatics and Genomics; two more Big Data zones in June

In our event in June we are running two Big Data Zones: the Genomics Zone and the Bioinformatics Zone co-funded by The Genome Analysis Centre and The Wellcome Trust. Scientists in the Genomics Zone are studying the genomes of all living things. Our bodies are made of millions of cells, each of them containing a complete instruction manual telling them how to make all the bits that make up that cell, and how to make them work together. This instruction manual comes in the form of DNA and it is called the genome. In the Genomics Zone we have scientists looking at the content of genomes in everything from tomatoes to sand-hoppers. We also have scientists studying the genome of virus or bacteria to learn more about how their living instructions work, and how we can use that knowledge to fight against them… The scientists in the Bioinformatics Zone use computer science and maths to read and … Continue reading

Posted on May 30, 2014 by modangela in News | Leave a comment

Care.data, where Big Data meets health

“Big Data” is a subject gracing the front pages of may newspapers and websites, but how many of us understand just what “Big Data” is, and how it relates to us? Care.data, the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) programme to make medical records available for research and health care use, is an example of a Big Data project, and its implications. Using patient information to support research or plan new health services is nothing new — the NHS has been collecting information from every hospital admission since the 80s — but Care.data takes it to a whole new level. Care.data will create a complete picture of the care that patients received, including prescriptions and test results. This information is made available to help specialists see how well different services perform, and the improvements to make. The information collected will help to find better ways of preventing and treating … Continue reading

Posted on April 8, 2014 by modangela in News | Leave a comment

And our first zone is… the ComputationalBio Zone!

In order to help you and your students familiarise with the topic of computational biology, we have prepared a brief summary on the subject. We have added links to websites in which you can find more detailed information, and we have also collected some educational resources that you might find of use to support your classes. Statistics, maths, biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, anatomy, neuroscience, animation… these are just some of the fields included in computational biology. Computational biologists spend their time developing new sophisticated tools to study different biological, behavioural and social systems. Scientists started to use biological data to develop mathematical relations among a range of biological systems in the early 1970s. However, it was not until a decade after that they started sharing big amounts of data, which required the development of new computational methods. And since the late 1990s, computational biology has become an essential part of … Continue reading

Posted on March 7, 2014 by modangela in News | Leave a comment

Behind the scenes on the Big Data debate kit

Today I went to Nottingham University’s Sutton Bonnington campus to talk to Prof Richard Emes, a bioinformatician. We sat in the coffee shop there and talked for two solid hours about Big Data, while my boyfriend took a walk in the Arboretum with our baby. (The campus is lovely, definitely worth a visit if you ever get the chance) Not only was it a fascinating conversation, but just before we left they started putting reduced stickers on the food in the display cabinet. We got two sets of ‘all-day-breakfast’ sandwiches, and four packs of tropical fruit cocktail, all for 90p! So if you are visiting, my tip would be to make it a Friday afternoon… I’ve been writing these debate kits for six years now (this is my seventh kit) so you’d think I’d have got the hang of it by now. But each one is a new challenge. The … Continue reading

Posted on March 4, 2014 by Moderator - Sophia in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

care.data

Today saw the House of Commons Select Committee grill various witnesses about care.data and how medical records appear to have been wrongly given to the insurance industry. Watching the session and the #CareData twitter stream was depressing. There seems to be a culture that the NHS needs to sell the idea better, that it needs to articulate what it is doing better. The idea of listening to people’s concerns did not feature. As part of our Big Data Season we’d like to run an I’m a Scientist public Zone (along the lines of our GM Food Zone) on Care.Data. We’d like to give the public a chance to ask 5 experts about the implications of care.data, to give NHS England a chance to explain their system, for medConfidential to explain their concerns, for Ben Goldacre to come back to supporting a project that if properly implemented would improve healthcare enormously. … Continue reading

Posted on February 25, 2014 by ModShane in News | Leave a comment

Take part in the ComputationalBio Zone this March

I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here! will be running a series of online events around Big Data. The Big Data Season 2014 will open with the ComputationalBio Zone in March, and we’re looking for scientists to take part. Do you design the tools used in computational biology? Are you a geneticist, either clinical or academic? Or a statistician? Do you work on policy or ethics about big data and how it is shared? We’re looking for five scientists and experts to take part in I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here!, a two-week long science engagement event that gets scientists interacting with school students online. The ComputationalBio Zone will run between the 10th and 21st March, exploring how computer systems are used to solve complex biological problems. Five scientists will take part in live chats, answer questions, and show students that there is so much more to biology than … Continue reading

Posted on February 12, 2014 by Moderator - Josh in News | Leave a comment

Big Data

Science used to be so simple. Physics involved dropping lead weights, and swinging pendulums. Chemistry meant mixing two liquids and measuring the heat rise or change in colour. Biology was about identifying leaves and insects. But that has all changed. Physicists now use the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to generate vast quantities of data to model how the universe is constructed. Chemists study molecular structures through crystallography through complex computer transformations. But perhaps the biggest change has come in biology. Automated DNA sequencing output HGP Geneticists are working out the details of the building blocks of life through sequencing genes. Epidemiologists are working out how disease spreads using computer models of millions of people. Neuroscientists are embarking on projects to recreate the brain using computer networks. Computers and the Big Data they generate are radically changing science. The I’m a Scientist Big Data season in 2014 will explore how … Continue reading

Posted on February 4, 2014 by modangela in News | Leave a comment