On 1st December, fourteen Year 10 students were given a fantastic opportunity to visit the Wolfson and Weston Institute for Family Health. The institute was built in 1985 as a result of funds raised by world renowned fertility expert and Imperial College London professor, Lord Winston who is also chairman of Genesis Research Trust. The £13 million purpose-built centre houses the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology (IRDB) and is the base for the UK's largest team of scientists and doctors working in the field of reproductive medicine.

Our students were shown around the impressive laboratory facilities and spoke to research students before hearing from three leading scientists about their work. Mr Ben Lavender presented a fascinating insight into the IVF procedure before discussing some of the ethical issues involved. Dr Peter Dixon described his journey from a schoolboy ‘interested in science’ through to his current work researching into the genetic links with diseases in pregnant women. Finally Dr Kieran O’Donnell revealed some of his very recent and fascinating findings on the effect of stress events during pregnancy on foetal development. Handling the mystery object (a vac-packed placenta) that Dr O’Donnell uses for his research will no doubt be an experience the students will find difficult to forget!

We would like to thank Dr Mark Sullivan and Yvonne Konieczna for organising the visit which provided the students with a truly valuable insight into cutting-edge medical research being carried out at the IRBD.