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This week at the Progress Educational Trust (21 May 2017)

Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust (PET) and Commissioning Editor of PET's flagship publication BioNewsThe Progress Educational Trust (PET) is proud to publish the 900th edition of its weekly flagship publication BioNews this week. As PET Director Sarah Norcross explains in a comment piece to mark the occasion, BioNews has been completely free to read since it first launched 18 years ago, but PET - subscribe here to be kept up-to-date with all the latest news and views on genetics, assisted reproduction, embryology and stem cell research.

However, PET needs your help to ensure that it remains freely available to all. Please support PET's Fundraising Appeal by making a donation to the charity - either online here, or by texting 'PROG23 £10' (or any other amount) to 70070. Better still, you can become a Friend of PET as detailed here, and give us a regular donation.

Ayala Ochert, former Science Editor at the Progress Educational Trust (PET) and at PET's flagship publication BioNews Shaoni Bhattacharya, Science Editor at the Progress Educational Trust (PET) and at PET's flagship publication BioNews There's been a changing of the guard at BioNews over the past few months. Science Editor Ayala Ochert recently left BioNews to complete her book on the science of breastmilk. Taking her place is Shaoni Bhattacharya, an award-winning science journalist who was previously News Editor at New Scientist magazine. Her latest BioNews articles concern one of the world's largest sets of human stem cell lines and newspaper allegations of questionable practices in the UK fertility sector.

Jennifer Willows, Legal Editor at the Progress Educational Trust (PET) and at PET's flagship publication BioNews Antony Blackburn-Starza, former Legal Editor at the Progress Educational Trust (PET) and at PET's flagship publication BioNews Meanwhile, Legal Editor Antony Blackburn-Starza (who first started writing for BioNews more than 10 years ago!) has left to complete his PhD at at the University of Kent's Law School. Taking his place is Jennifer Willows, whose latest BioNews articles concern a ruling granting custody of a baby to a surrogate and a legal battle over patents and CRISPR technologies.

Kirsty Oswald, former Genetics Editor at the Progress Educational Trust (PET) and at PET's flagship publication BioNews Annabel Slater, Genetics Editor at the Progress Educational Trust (PET) and at PET's flagship publication BioNews Finally, Genetics Editor Kirsty Oswald has left BioNews to write about medicine and genetics for publications including the Pharmaceutical Journal. Taking her place is Annabel Slater, whose latest BioNews articles concern genes connected with greying hair and baldness and plans to build a synthetic human DNA genome.

BioNews - the Progress Educational Trust (PET)'s free weekly digest of news and comment on genetics, assisted conception, embryo/stem cell research and related areasBesides editing BioNews, Shaoni, Jennifer and Annabel also run the publication's Writing Scheme, which trains graduate students in the art of science and news writing. Below are are the PhD students from University College London (UCL) and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) who have most recently completed the Writing Scheme, and the articles on which they've been honing their writing skills. Others have completed the Writing Scheme while studying at King's College London and the University of Sheffield.


Articles by Caroline Casey (currently pursuing a PhD at UCL's Institute of Neurology):


Articles by Jamie Rickman (currently pursuing a PhD at UCL in collaboration with the Francis Crick Institute):


Articles by Emma Laycock (currently pursuing a PhD at UCL's Cancer Institute):


Articles by Lucas Taylor (currently pursuing a PhD at QMUL's School of Law):


Articles by Rachel Reeves (currently pursuing a PhD at UCL in in collaboration with Public Health England):


Articles by Amina Yonis (currently pursuing a PhD at UCL's Department of Cell and Developmental Biology):


Students who complete the BioNews Writing Scheme not only go on to become regular contributors to BioNews, but have gone on to work for prominent organisations in PET's field including clinics, regulators and ethics bodies.

Helen Robertson, Volunteer Writer at the Progress Educational Trust's flagship publication BioNews and an alumnus of the BioNews Writing Scheme Writing Scheme alumni have also won recognition in competitions and awards including the Medical Research Council's Max Perutz Science Writing Prize and NOBELini Awards, the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize and the Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme. Most recently, Writing Scheme alumnus Helen Robertson was a winner of the Nature Jobs Journalism Competition.

If your institution might be interested in supporting the BioNews Writing Scheme and contributing to the next generation of science writers, please contact PET Director Sarah Norcross at

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