A Cambridge University PhD student from Hammerwich in Staffordshire presented her science research project to MPs and expert judges at the House of Commons on Monday 18th March. Charlotte Houldcroft, 25, visited Parliament as part of ‘SET for Britain’. Charlotte carries out her research at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and attends King’s College, Cambridge.
Her research into the genetics of susceptibility to Epstein-Barr virus and glandular fever (‘kissing disease’) was presented alongside dozens of other biologists’ research in the only competition of its kind.
On presenting her work to Parliament, Charlotte said: “I felt this was a great chance to explain my work to a really wide audience, including the politicians who make science funding decisions. The virus I study – Epstein-Barr – doesn’t just cause glandular fever; it’s also causes some cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers, and it’s linked to multiple sclerosis. Understanding why Epstein-Barr virus makes some people ill, and how we can use this knowledge to improve screening and treatment in high-risk patients, is something I’m passionate about. This was a great chance to share that with MPs and other scientists.”
Michael Fabricant said “It was a real pleasure to meet Charlotte and learn more about the virus which not only causes glandular fever, but can also induce some types of cancers. Her work in identifying the genome of the virus on its single strand of DNA is ground-breaking. Charlotte is a local girl who was brought up in Hammerwich, attended The Friary School in Lichfield, then took her undergraduate degree at Oxford University before going on to study for her PhD at Cambridge. Our local schools can be very proud of her.
“This annual competition is an important date in the Parliamentary calendar, giving MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of our talented young researchers.”
The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee run the event in collaboration with the Institute of Physics, The Physiological Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Society of Biology and the Society of Chemical Industry, with financial support from BP, Airbus/EADS, INEOS, AgChemAccess, Essar, the Institute of Biomedical Science, GAMBICA and WMG.
The photograph shows Michael Fabricant with Charlotte Houldcroft.