This Thursday, 6.1 Biologists went to the world-famous Sanger Institute at the Genome Campus, outside Cambridge. We were able to learn about the cutting-edge science research being carried out there on DNA.
Our first workshop activity helped us grasp the methods used to sequence DNA, using enzymes, bacterial plasmids, lasers and data processing. The DNA sequence is displayed as a grid of 4 colours, each representing one of the DNA bases (C, A, T, G). Mr Attwood was inspired to suggest we change the names of our school Houses to these DNA bases as the 4 colours used are red, yellow, green and blue.
We also received a fascinating lecture about the work around cancer research using immunotherapy – the so-called ‘magic bullet’ treatment. In other sessions, we used laptops to complete a gene hunt on MRSA (an antibiotic-resistant ‘superbug’) and a tour of the open lab, where we could see scientists at work as well as a display of the entire human genome printed out alongside some of the machines that sequence DNA.
All of the scientists and speakers we saw were women. As excellent role models, they were able to inspire our girls by sharing their career paths and encourage them to pursue science degrees or apprenticeships.