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The 2013 CHRISTMAS LECTURES© at the Royal Institution will be presented by Dr Alison Woollard FSB from the University of Oxford who will explore the frontiers of developmental biology and uncover the remarkable transformation of a single cell into a complex organism. ‘Life Fantastic’ will tell this fascinating story in three parts, ‘Where do I come from?’, ‘Am I a mutant?’ and ‘Could I live forever?’

Dr Woollard said: “I am incredibly excited and proud to presenting this year’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES.

“This is partly because developmental biology tends to be under-represented in the media and in science communication, but mainly because Life Fantastic is such an interesting story to share.

“I think these lectures are a wonderful opportunity to ignite people’s interest in biology. I want to get people thinking about how one tiny cell is the building block for an entire organism and to understand the incredible potential this concept holds for future medical discoveries that could completely change how we recognise, treat and prevent hundreds of different diseases.

“Everyone has an inner scientist and I hope my lectures will get people excited by the idea of doing science themselves and, most importantly, encourage people to join the debate around the complex issues thrown up by advances in biomedicine, because these are issues that affect everyone in our society.”

Dr Woollard’s current research examines the molecular mechanisms of cell fate determination during development, and studies of the genetic control of ageing. Her chosen model organism is the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans which will also have a starring role in the CHRISTMAS LECTURES.

The CHRISTMAS LECTURES® are held in the world famous lecture theatre at the Royal Institution in London and have run every year, except during the Second World War, since they were first started by Michael Faraday in 1825.

Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, said: “The CHRISTMAS LECTURES inspire people of all ages, and we are extremely pleased that one of our Fellows has taken this opportunity to raise the profile of biology. Dr Woollard joins a long history of biologists presenting the CHRISTMAS LECTURES, and since 1825 topics have included insects, botany, extinction, the eye, and animal behaviour. We wish her all the best for the lectures.”