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University stages poignant stem cell drama

Posted on 25 March 2011

A play aimed at teenagers, which explores the social and ethical implications of stem cell research, is to be staged at the University of York on the eve of a major conference on the subject.

Little Miracles written by award-winning playwright Joy Wilkinson is being performed in the University’s Department of Biology next week in advance of the annual stem cell science conference, the UK National Stem Cell Network (UKNSCN).

The University is hosting the three-day conference which will showcase the latest developments in UK stem cell and regenerative medicine research.

Audiences of 14-18 year old pupils from schools across Yorkshire will see Little Miracles on 28 and 29 March. The drama was commissioned by The Biochemical Society to mark its Centenary. It was created by the Biochemical Society Theatre in collaboration with the Islington Community and Islington Young Carers.

The story has been developed through a series of exploratory workshops with young people, including young people with caring responsibilities, and in consultation with scientists and theatre-makers.

It features the story of Ayesha, an IVF baby, who becomes a stem cell researcher when she grows up to help to try to find a cure for the dementia which afflicts Dena, her mother.

Gemma Garrett, Head of Education at The Biochemical Society, said: “Little Miracles is an inventive, funny and touching drama about stem cells, young carers and hopeful possibilities that explores many of the social and ethical implications of embryonic stem cell research.”

The chairman of The Biochemical Society, Professor Colin Kleanthous, of the Department of Biology at York, added: "This thought-provoking play is a highly effective way of introducing issues around stem cell research to a young audience. The play forms part of the Biochemical Society's Centenary celebrations in 2011 and we are proud to be associated with its production.”

Notes to editors:

  • The University of York’s Department of Biology is one of the leading centres for biological teaching and research in the UK. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, it was ranked equal first among broad spectrum bioscience departments in the UK for quality that was judged to be world-leading. The Department both teaches degree courses and undertakes research across the whole spectrum of modern Biology, from molecular genetics and biochemistry to ecology.
  • More about The Biochemical Society at www.biochemistry.org/
  • More about the UK National Stem Cell Network (UKNSCN) annual conference at www.uknscn.org

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