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    SL born Oxford Computational Bioscientist takes her science to Parliament

    February 25, 2015

    Dr Dilrini De Silva, 28, a Computational Bioscientist at John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford, hailing from Kurunegala, Sri Lanka, is attending Parliament to present her science to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges, as part ofSET for BritainonMonday 9 March.


    Dilrini’s poster on research about the genomic epidemiology of a sexually transmitted human pathogen (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) that is fast becoming resistant to known antibiotics will be judged against dozens of other scientist'sresearch in the only national competition of its kind.


    Dilrini was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament.


    On presenting her science in Parliament, she said, “I hope to engage with as many MPs as possible to enlighten them about how we're using the latest genomic technologies on large datasets to inform public health interventions, with the aim of convincing them that continued investment into cutting-edge interdisciplinary research is fruitful and it's impact at the national and global level significant.”


    Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said, “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers.


    “These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”


    Dilrini’s research has been entered into the Biological and Biomedical Sciences session of the competition, which will end in a gold, silver and bronze prize-giving ceremony.


    Judged by leading academics, the gold medalist receives £3,000, while silver and bronze receive £2,000 and £1,000 respectively.


    Philip Wright, CEO of The Physiological Society, said, “The UK has an excellent biomedical research base that is underpinned by our strength in physiology. SET for Britain provides a unique opportunity for our representatives in parliament to see the fruits of the UK’s research spend first hand, and the enthusiasm and drive of these up-coming scientists.”


    Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, said, “Scientists and politicians both have major roles in addressing some of society’s biggest challenges, from climate change to food security. SET for Britain is a rare opportunity for politicians to meet some of our most promising young scientists and understand their work.


    “It is important that MPs make policy decisions informed by evidence, and a greater mutual understanding between MPs and scientists will improve this. This is a message that is even more important just ahead of a General Election. The next Government needs to ensure the UK continues to lead the world in biological research where we have enormous strength”.


    The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee run the event in collaboration with the Society of Biology, the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, the Institute of Physics, The Physiological Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Society of Chemical Industry, with financial support from INEOS, Institute of Biomedical Science, Wiley, BP, Essar, WMG, Clay Mathematics Institute, and the Bank of England.

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