Biotechnology: Driving Medical Progress

Biotechnology is still a relatively new field with great potential for driving medical progress.

This week, our Year 10 BrainSTEM students visited the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, as part of their study about biotechnology and its role in medical research. They began the day participating in a dry workshop to learn more about the process of PCR (a process that’s name is now so familiar following the pandemic!).

This was then followed by carrying out the PCR process in the laboratory, with a focus on a case study related to searching for gene mutations in DNA samples from melanoma patients.

The students worked in a P2 category laboratory under the supervision of research scientists, who throughout the day shared their experiences about their career pathway and the research they are currently completing at the Perkins Institute.

The lead scientist taking the students through the laboratory workshop was Nicola Principe (Class of 2014). She is currently working in cancer research at the Perkins Institute.

Nicola and her colleagues then took the students on a very interesting tour of some of the research departments in the building, ranging from tissue culture to genomics, to 3D printing of body parts. It was a fascinating day, to say the least!

Here is what some of our students had to say about the day:

In my experience, Harry Perkins Institute was like kindling to a flame, it stoked the fire of passion in my heart to peruse a career in medicine. I experienced first-hand what my life would be like as a medical researcher and met many inspirational people who had completed degrees that I’m interested in. I learned that there are many more applications to these degrees than I had previously known. The experience was amazing. I loved seeing all the equipment used and even more using some of it myself. I believe I learned more in a day than I could ever learn at school, not just academically but also about myself. Overall, this was an excursion I will remember for a long time to come, and I would recommend it to future students. Lexi Peterson

This excursion was very informative and interesting, as we were able to build on the knowledge we had learned prior in class, particularly biotechnology. The main thing the excursion focused on was PCRs, which stands for a polymerase chain reaction. We learned how scientists did PCRs, and we were able to do one ourselves. Another thing we were able to do was to take a tour through the centre’s state-of-the-art technology, and it was very interesting and incredible to learn about the varied kind of experiments and testing the scientists, and biomedical engineers do at the centre. Annalise Herrmann

Thank you to Science Teacher, Joanne Priest, for organising such a fantastic day for our girls. They’ve clearly been left feeling inspired!  

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