Dr Mar Carmena

Senior Research Associate, Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, The University of Edinburgh

Beltane Fellow: 3 Jan 2011 – 30 June 2011

Mar is a Senior Research Associate at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology with expertise in Genetics and Cell Biology. Mar’s research looks at how cells divide to produce daughter cells containing the correct amount of genetic material. In particular, she studies some of the proteins that control this process and ensure that cell division is timely and accurate. Mar teaches Postgraduate Courses abroad on the subject of chromosomes and mitosis as an alternative target for anti-cancer therapies. These include Courses at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden (Mitosis as an Anti-cancer Target) and The University of Montevideo, Uruguay (Chromosomes, Mitosis and Cancer Therapies). Mar has worked on collaborations with laboratories abroad including the University of Montreal in Canada, Harvard Medical School and Tzu Chi University in Taiwan (funded by an International Project Grant from the Royal Society).

She is a founder member and Co-convener of the School of Biological Sciences Press Gang, a group that works with the University Press Office to identify and promote the communication of scientific breakthroughs and discoveries that are of interest to the public.

Mar is a member of the Public Engagement Team in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology and she takes an active role in planning and organizing Science Communication activities including visits to schools, Open Days for Science teachers and workshops for students.

Mar’s Fellowship project is EDINCELL, a new initiative that will aim to improve the communication of Genetics and Cell Biology research to the public and media. It will concentrate on mainstream themes in these disciplines and their relevance for the general public. It will refer directly to research projects ongoing in the University of Edinburgh and the scientists leading them. In the first instance this will be achieved through the assembly of a repository of information that will be made publicly available through the Internet. For each theme this will include an explanation of the basic science and references to the latest advances in the ongoing research projects. Scientists will be encouraged to take an active role by contributing materials or interviews. They will also have the option to participate in a network of experts that will serve as contacts for consultation by the media. EDINCELL will be a useful source of information for the Press Office and media, as well as the general public. It will also serve as a new platform for contact between research scientists and the Press. We hope that EDINCELL will also be the basis for the development of further new resources for the public in the future (e.g., for families and schools).