Dinner 2016

For our 2016 Annual Dinner we welcomed the head of the Department Of Genetics, Anne Ferguson-Smith. Anne was wonderful company and the highlight of the evening was her spectacular poem she had written about epigenetics and Caians, entitled Pimp my Genome. The full text of the poem can be found below our photograph.




Pimp my Genome (or Ode to Epigenetics) for Gonville and Caius Nat Sci Society

Around the 1600s William Harvey came to play

His interest in blood and guts was far from DNA

I wonder if his output would have ever been postponed

if he’d studied epigenomes and known of methylomes


If Francis Crick, when he was here had known what we know now

He might have clapped his hands in glee and raised a bushy brow

The journey through to RNA is full of bits and bobs

If he’d considered all those methyl groups, his Dogma would have knobs


I wonder if the chromatin of visionary Venn

Was made of overlapping rings that influenced his pen

If histone deacetylase had caught him unawares,

I wonder if Venn diagrams would then be made of squares.


When Hawking pondered cosmic holes, and cosmic bits of black

To help him with the paradox to bring lost matter back.

They’ve proved new waves of gravity as he had always said –

But if we’d modified Steven’s histones, would those Black Holes all be Red?


I know of Howard Florey because Fleming was a Scot

They discovered penicillin and that changed our world a lot.

But what if they had turned their skills to chromosomes instead….

Our genomes might be better but more people would be dead.


My predecessor Fisher with famous his Latin square

Had sexy son hypothesis and probablistic flair

His thoughts on adaptation might soon have been outgrown

If he’d understood that traits were more than just the gene alone


I don’t know much of particles and physics and such things

But a guy called Sir James Chadwick talked of what his neutron brings

I wonder if we’d have more peace if efforts in his head

Were focused not on atoms but on methyl groups instead.


I’ve been noticing that most of those that made it good from Caius

Are of the male persuasion – I suggest that, if you please

You need to bring more women in to increase femalekind

Our bigger epigenomes make a stronger female mind (ask me if you want details).


So pimping of the genome is a necessary rap

It makes us who we are today; improves our genome map.

It’s mooted to do everything, bar making up the bed

But it cannot cure a hangover or soothe a throbbing head!


Anne C Ferguson-Smith (Head – Department of Genetics)

March 2016