Thousands of flies

We may look nothing like fruit flies, but 70% of genes for human disease have a fruit fly equivalent. For this reason, many scientists study these insects to understand how genes affect our health.

Intro text

The Crick has a specialist Fly Facility, which takes care of 15,000 different fly families.

Technicians working in the facility run a constant, complex breeding programme; if a single tube of flies is mislabelled or neglected, a unique family could be lost forever.

Technicians in the Fly Facility know this insect’s anatomy like the back of their hand, but it would be impossible to memorise the myriad differences between thousands of fly families.

An atlas of fly characteristics used by the Crick's Fly Facility.


Meet Grace

Grace Davies completed her biology degree whilst working part time before joining the Crick. All the Crick scientists whose work relates to flies use the lab in the Fly Facility, so technicians like Grace find themselves an integral part of their research.

Grace Davies

Mini CV

  • 2008

    Completed A level equivalent including Biology, Physics, Maths and Chemistry, Scotland

  • 2009 - 2021

    Diploma Higher Education in Biological Sciences at University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Scotland

  • 2015 - 2016

    Bachelor in Natural Sciences at Open University

  • 2018 - present

    MA Infectious Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

  • 2017 - present

    Fly Facility Technician, Francis Crick Institute, London, UK

  • Quote Grace

    The most satisfying aspect of working at the Crick is knowing what I do could help researchers now, or in the future, discover cures towards disease.

    Grace Davies

    Fly Facility Technician


    Meet Joachim

    To decipher the DNA instructions that make a fruit fly, altered DNA is inserted into fly embryos, which scientists then study once the flies hatch. Supervisor Joachim Kurt has the delicate and highly skilled task of injecting this altered DNA into embryos. This role requires a cool head and incredibly steady hands.

    Joachim Kurth

    Mini CV

  • 1987

    Completed A Level equivalent including Biology and Geography, Germany

  • 1989 - 1995

    MA Biology, Aachen University, Germany

  • 1995 - 1999

    PhD in Plant Molecular Biology and Plant Disease Resistance, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

  • 1999 - 2004

    Postdoctoral Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany

  • 2010 - 2017

    Research Technician and Laboratory Research Scientist, National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK

  • 2017 - Present

    Fly Facility Supervisor, Francis Crick Institute, London, UK 

  • Quote Joachim

    You need a deep understanding of the research work and the science in order to spot issues and troubleshoot. It’s rewarding that we can improve the efficiency of the scientific research that happens here.

    Joachim Kurth

    Fly Facility Supervisor

    Have you got what it takes?

    Have you got what it takes?

    Here are the top three skills needed to work in the Fly Facility:

    • Problem solving
    • Analytical skills
    • Precision

      For more information on the different skills required for technical roles in science and beyond, have a look at the Technicians Make it Happen prospectus:

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