European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences

Our inspiring educational experiences share the scientific discoveries of EMBL with young learners aged 10-19 years and teachers in Europe and beyond.

EMBL Insight Lecture 2016


The EMBL Insight Lecture 2016 “Genomics and Big Data: Transforming our Understanding of the Processes of Life” was presented by Professor Ewan Birney on 2 December 2016.

Professor Ewan Birney, who is Director of the EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute, and his research team study genetic variation and algorithms. Over the past twenty years Ewan Birney has played an important role in the genomics, initially as part of the team that helped sequence the first human genome and subsequently in the relatively new field of bioinformatics, where computer and life sciences meet. In his talk, Ewan Birney provides a short introduction to the biology of DNA and gives an insight into his personal involvement in the Human Genome Project. He then goes on to assess the role of cutting-edge genome sequencing on human health, discussing cancer, pathogens and rare diseases. In the final part of his talk, Ewan Birney asks the audience the question how comfortable they are with surrendering their personal data, comparing and contrasting data on loyalty shopping cards and genomes.

Concepts covered

  • DNA
  • Genome
  • Human Genome Project and human variations
  • Genome sequencing advancements and impact
  • EMBL and EMBL-EBI as organizations
  • Genome sequencing impact on medicine
    • Breast cancer
    • Children rare disease
    • Pathogens
  • Big data
  • Responsible data sharing

Watch lecture

The EMBL Insight Lecture is available via on-demand-streaming from this website. You can watch it directly in the window below. Alternatively, you can open the EMBL Insight Lecture here.

Topic area:  Genome biology, Bioinformatics

Age group:  16-19