Project Description

Professor Marilyn Monk

University College London

Professor Marilyn Monk is a research scientist in the fields of molecular biology, early embryonic development, epigenetics and cancer. She is Emerita Professor of Molecular Embryology at University College London and previously Honorary Professor at the University of Melbourne and Adjunct Professor at Monash University.

Her research, beginning in the Bacteriology Department at Melbourne University, was concerned with the mechanisms of DNA replication and repair in micro-organisms. On winning a scholarship for study overseas and a British Passenger Line free passage, she moved to London to complete her PhD after which she returned to postdoctoral research in Melbourne Zoology Department. Then she was awarded the ICIANZ scholarship and continued her post doctoral research at the CNRS in Paris, the University of Leicester, and the University of Edinburgh.

She moved to University College London in 1974 with a change of field to early mammalian development and has remained there to this day. Due to this change of field, a hallmark of Marilyn’s bench research is the ‘micronisation’ of molecular techniques to the sensitivity of a single cell in order to bring molecular biology to the very few cells available in early embryonic development. The ability to detect gene mutation, gene modification and gene transcription in single cells has had far-reaching medical significance. Together with Cathy Holding, Marilyn carried out the pioneering experiments which established the feasibility of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for couples at risk of having a baby with a serious genetic disease.

Her research has led to several paradigm shifts including the discovery of the late origin of the germ line (thus ending August Weismann’s 1892 doctrine of the continuity of the germ line in mammals), some original work showing that the expression of genes is programmed by modifications superimposed on the gene DNA (epigenetics), molecular mechanisms of Lamarckian inheritance, and the phenomenon of deprogramming by global erasure of methylation modifications inherited from the sperm and egg in early development. Deprogramming returns the embryonic cells to the tabula rasa (totipotent stem cell) state, capable of producing all the different cell types of the new individual. Marilyn hypothesised that deprogramming may also be an initiating event in tumour formation and, subsequently, the development of cancer and she and Cathy Holding isolated a number of embryo-specific expressed genes also expressed in cancer towards the development of a new type of cancer vaccine.
Marilyn is also an Alexander Technique teacher and a Psychosynthesis Counsellor.

SELF-MASTERY – Being the best version of yourself

In this workshop you will explore the different realms of knowing and being, how you were conditioned to be one version of you out of of hundreds of possible versions you could be, and the self-mastery enabling you to be the best version of yourself you choose to be.

A period of transition often occurs at this stage of life, 18 to 25 yeas old, when leaving home and starting a university degree, a new job, or setting out to explore the world. Young people may be experiencing a large change in their environment during these formative adult years and self-reflection could be a large part of their time.

It is a time to ask questions like who am I, what determined who I am, who do I want to be, do I want to change, do I need to change (to re-invent myself in this new environment), what are the barriers to change, is it even possible to change, what are the determinants of self-mastery.

We will start by observing that each one of us is just one version of hundreds of possible versions of ourselves. Conditioning our way of being results from the epigenetic programming of our genes in response to our environment – in the womb, in early life, throughout life, our life view and choice of lifestyle, the friends and activities we choose, and our role in service to a higher order structure. We will also see that change can happen; turning points are indeed associated with a large change in environment such as leaving home to start a new independent life.

Marilyn will speak from her own experience in life exploring three realms of knowing and being – the scientist (objective truth), the poet (subjective truth), and the mystic (transcendental truth). She will share some of her experiences as a scientist both from her research and from the Alexander Technique, from her activities as a poet and artist and a follower of Assagioli in Psychosynthesis, and her experiences as a mystic in an ashram in India.