NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences will hold a special event for secondlevel students in senior cycle biology on Saturday April 25 to celebrate International DNA Day.
‘DNA day – Learn how to unlock the DNA code’ is a free three hour practical experience in the NUI Galway biomedical sciences laboratories.
Human DNA contains the blueprint for many aspects of what makes us who we are — what our eye, skin, and hair colour will be, how tall or short we may grow to be, and if we are more susceptible to getting certain diseases. During the workshop students will learn how scientists identify differences in the DNA code and how we can use these techniques to diagnose genetic disorders or determine if one person may be more susceptible to a disease than another.
The DNA workshop is organised by Dr Derek Morris, programme director for the BSc in biomedical science, and Dr Muriel Grenon, director of the Cell EXPLORERS science outreach programme, both from the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway.
Dr Derek Morris, a human geneticist, will discuss his research which focuses on understanding how small changes in our DNA code can put us at risk of lots of common illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, and schizophrenia. By studying the DNA code in different people, Dr Morris aims to identify genes that are responsible for such illnesses and develop new methods of diagnosis and treatment that can help patients.
The DNA Day practical experience will teach students about the power of genetics by providing them hands-on experience of DNA analysis in a research laboratory setting. They will be mentored by a team of young postgraduate researchers into performing authentic experiments individually.
The practical activities proposed have been optimised by a group of final year biochemistry students as part of the Cell EXPLORERS science outreach programme. The activities have been designed to introduce these topics in a fun and exciting way, allowing the students to take the lead and providing a real insight into science at university level.
Dr Morris said: “The amazing instruction book contained in each of our cells is celebrated every year on DNA Day, April 25. This is a special day in DNA’s history as on this day in 1953 the structure of DNA was published, and on the same day in 2003 it was announced that the Human Genome Project, a mission to sequence all the human genes, had been completed. These remarkable achievements have led to huge advances in the fields of genetics and have allowed scientists to uncover many of the mysteries of how DNA controls our make up and impacts on our health.”
This event will take place on Saturday April 25 from 2pm to 5pm and coincides with NUI Galway’s open day. Students attending this event can spend the day on campus and find out more about the third level courses available at NUI Galway, such as the flagship biomedical science undergraduate course.
To register go to www.cellexplorers.com, download the application form, and return it by post before Friday April 17 to Dr Derek Morris, School of Natural Sciences, NUI Galway.