LiveLab Live: from Bioinformatics Blitz to Big Bioscience Slams

LiveLab Live: from Bioinformatics Blitz to Big Bioscience Slams

The plan

In 2018, LifeLab researchers visited schools and colleges across East Anglia to talk to students about the amazing range of careers in bioscience. We had a fantastic time meeting over 500 young people and hearing about what science meant to them. This year, we are excited to make the LifeLab schools programme bigger and better with more ways for students to get involved than ever! We are hoping students can start seeing the link between their science lessons and science that affects everyone’s day-to-day life.

What we’re up to this year

We’re putting on our Bioinformatics Blitz in which schools can join together in unpicking a data analysis problem whilst getting to grips with the real software used by researchers around the world! If that wasn’t enough, you can also take part in the Big Bioscience Slam that challenges students to design a poster answering some of the biggest questions currently playing on researchers minds What would you want to sequence the DNA of and why? How would you use stem cells to study disease? What protein structure would you love to know more about? If you had a DNA time capsule, what would you store in it? How would you want to modify your genome to stop the effects of ageing? Anyone can take part and be as creative as they would like to. We have already had entries from students looking into to everything from combating disease around the world to working out how DNA gives Harry Potter his magic powers! Many of these posters will be displayed at events over the LifeLab weekend in Cambridge, Peterborough and Ely so do come see what everyone has come up with and who takes home the prize this year!

The story so far…

We kicked off the visits to schools for the Big Bioscience Slam on a typically rainy British summer morning. We loaded up the van and were on our way out to the fens for a great class session at Cromwell Academy. A-level and B-Tech students came along to hear about the different bioscience institutes in and around Cambridge. They were fascinated to hear how research is looking to develop new technologies to improve healthcare around the world using DNA sequencing and genetics. We also covered some of the ethical questions this research is raising and explored what the students thought about access to the technology and the power of the data generated from it.

A real highlight of the session was seeing the students engaged in debates about how they saw advances in the field impacting on the world of their futures. The researchers are really looking forward to seeing how students bring these considerations into their posters! Since that visit, we have been out to schools around Peterborough to show students how technology as well as science has progressed in recent years to allow for even more inventive research projects to be undertaken. Our team of researchers from across the LifeLab partners are excitedly awaiting more poster entries and we hope to show as many of them as we can at our events in September. Please do come along and see all the great ideas the scientists of the future have for bioscience research. 

Get involved!

If you are a student or a teacher then please do get in touch so you can get involved in all these amazing opportunities. You can email us at for all the details about these activities or check out the LifeLab for Schools page. You can also stay up to date and hear how everything is going by following @camlifelab on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


Authored by:

Mike Norman, Science Engagement and Outreach Officer at the Wellcome Genome Campus.

About Mike:

Previously the co-central coordinator of LifeLab 2018, this year Mike is running the Wellcome Genome Campus school roadshow element of LifeLab 2019 and coordinating the Big Bioscience Slam poster competition! In the past, Mike has worked as a researcher in the field of bioenergetics. This research involved hunting out microbes in soil that can actually generate electrical currents and have the potential to be used as a source of green energy. Highlighting the application of this research to the public became a passion for Mike and led to him moving into the science communication sector. In his spare time Mike is a keen videogame player and runner who can often be found exploring the Norfolk countryside.