About this event

  • Date and time Mon 26 Apr 2021 from 5:30pm to 6:35pm
  • Location Online
  • Organised by Medical Genetics

The eighth webinar in The genetics of… series. This unique and exciting webinar will allow participants to explore studies of ancient DNA and understand how it can inform us about the health of our species today. We have an unmissable chance to hear from specialists in the field blazing trails and harnessing key messages hidden within the genetics of our predecessors. 

Since major technological advancements dramatically improved the ability to extract DNA from ancient biological samples, there has been no let-up. Releasing the molecular messages held within ancient genomes has significantly progressed our knowledge of the lives of our ancestorsJoin us in this webinar to unpack the studies of ancient DNA and to ascertain how we can apply this knowledge to improve our health in the present day. 

During this webinar you will:

  • Explain how technological advancements in isolating ancient DNA have revealed information about the health of our ancestors 
  • Understand how ancient DNA is extracted, analysed and harnessed to give up its archaic secrets 
  • Acknowledge the utility of undertaking ancient DNA and archaeological studies in benefitting healthcare today 

The genetics of… series has been developed following feedback from delegates attending the Genetics of COVID-19 webinars. Presented by the Medical Genetics section of the Royal Society of Medicine, this series of talks will focus on the role of genetics in different areas of health and well-being.

This activity has been supported by a grant from Roche Products Limited. Roche Products Limited has had no input into the arrangement or educational content of this activity.

A CPD certificate with 1 CPD credit will be issued to those joining each webinar live and will be automatically issued after 7 days  to those who watched the webinar live in its entirety. Those who watch the webinar on-demand will receive a CPD certificate 30 days after the webinar has gone live.  

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Registration for this webinar will close 2 hours prior to the start time. You will receive the webinar link 2 hours before the meeting. Late registrations will not be accepted. 

Key speakers

Dr Thomas Booth

Senior Research Laboratory Scientist, The Crick Institute, London


Speaker's biography

Dr Tom Booth has a doctorate in archaeology and has spent the last 7 years sampling ancient skeletons from Britain for DNA analysis to look at genetic change and natural selection over the last 10,000 years. He is currently working on a Wellcome Trust-funded project at the Francis Crick Institute which is aiming to sequence 1000 high-quality ancient genomes from Britain to help create an ancient UK Biobank that can be used for investigating the dynamics of medically relevant genetic variants over time.

Dr Christiana Scheib

Research Fellow, St John’s College, University of Cambridge, Associate Professor of Ancient DNA, Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, Estonia

Speaker's biography

Dr. Christiana L. Scheib is a Research Fellow at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge and the Head of the Ancient DNA laboratory at
the Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, Tartu Estonia. Her PhD from the University of Cambridge optimised protocols and explored the complex genetic history of Native American populations. In her first post-doc, she shifted her focus to include pathogen aDNA and the role of disease in human evolution. Her current work integrates a multi-omic approach to gain a better understanding of host-pathogen dynamics and how they have affected our genomes today.

Dr Charlotte Houldcroft

Post-doctorate Research Associate, Cambridge Infectious Disease, The University of Cambridge

Speaker's biography

Charlotte Houldcroft is a virologist, specialising in the co-evolution of humans and our DNA viruses.

Charlotte studied Human Sciences at the University of Oxford and has a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Cambridge/Wellcome Sanger Institute. Her PhD research focused on human genetic variants which impact cellular control of Epstein-Barr virus in B cells.

Subsequently, she has worked at UCL-Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, researching viral evolution in transplant recipients and children with immune deficiencies. DNA viruses are the most significant viral pathogens in this patient population. Charlotte has built on this work at the University of Cambridge, as part of a collaborative study of how the cellular immune response and cytomegalovirus evolve together in the post-transplant period. Most recently, she has found herself learning all about RNA viruses as a member of COG-UK, using genomics to track the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 within and between hospitals and care homes in East Anglia.


View the programme

Welcome and introduction
What is ancient DNA?

Dr Thomas Booth, Senior Research Scientist, The Francis Crick Institute, London 

Ancient DNA and the plague: Approaches to health

Dr Christiana Scheib, Research Fellow, St John’s College, University of Cambridge, Associate Professor of Ancient DNA, Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, Estonia

Ancient epidemics through the lens of human genetics and aDNA

Dr Charlotte Houldcroft, Post-doctoral research associate, Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge

Panel discussion
Close of meeting



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The genetics of forensic medicine: Episode 6

The sixth webinar in The genetics of… series. In this webinar, we will hear from expert speakers about the way that DNA has revolutionised forensic science. Participants will learn about the unique regions in the genetic code that allow fingerprints to identify individuals and how these became the mainstay of forensic medicine. Join us to hear how direct to consumer testing has helped to solve crimes and how molecular information is stored on the national DNA database.

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The genetics of addiction: Episode 7

The seventh webinar in The genetics of… series. In this webinar, participants will have the chance to recognise the arguments for and against the role of genetics in addictive behaviour. Leaders in their fields will engage in a discussion to explore the role of DNA in driving addiction and to consider how epigenetic factors display the interplay of nature versus nurture.

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The genetics of extrachromosomal DNA and its importance in cancer: Episode 9

The ninth webinar in The genetics of… series. Join us for this webinar which will bring together three world-renowned scientists, each offering unique insights into the role of extrachromosomal DNA in cancerThere will be an opportunity to ask our panel of experts questions on this recently emerging field of cancer genomics.

Registration for this webinar will close 2 hours prior to the start time. You will receive the webinar link 2 hours before the meeting. Late registrations will not be accepted. 

Special rates for difficult times 
The RSM wishes to offer healthcare professionals continued learning opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic. The RSM’s weekly COVID-19 Series webinars remain free of charge, while there will be small charges to register for other online education. These fees will enable the RSM to continue its programme of activities and will apply during the course of the pandemic.

Webinar recordings will be available for registered delegates up to 30 days after the live webinar, via Zoom. The link will be sent 24 hours after the webinar takes place. 

This webinar will be recorded and stored by the Royal Society of Medicine and may be distributed in future on various internet channels.  

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