Nord Anglia Education
Nord Anglia
05 May, 2023

Biology Trip to the Learning DNA Centre

Biology Trip to the Learning DNA Centre - Biology Trip to the DNA Centre
We are thrilled to share with you the details of our Year 12 Biology students' recent visit to the DNA Learning Centre in Suzhou, affiliated with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. This world-renowned research and education institution has been contributing to the field of biomedical research since 1890 and is home to eight Nobel Prize winners, employing over 1,000 people, including scientists, students, and technicians. The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's education arm includes a graduate school, academic publishing house, and programmes for students and teachers at all levels, from middle school to undergraduate.

On day one, our students learned about CRISPR-Cas9, a revolutionary gene-editing tool with the potential to transform medicine and agriculture. They had the opportunity to modify the composition genetically of a bacterial plasmid using restriction and ligation enzymes and then, performed agarose gel electrophoresis to evaluate the effectiveness of their practical skills. The students learned how to pour their own gel, load their DNA samples, and observe the results of their genetic engineering experiment.

On day two, our students learned about PCR, a technique used for amplifying small DNA fragments. They then amplified sections of their own DNA to test for the PCT gene, which allows people with the dominant form of the gene to taste bitter compounds. After amplifying their DNA, students performed electrophoresis to separate the DNA fragments by size and visualised the DNA bands using a special stain. This allowed them to identify if the PCT gene was present and what carrier status they had.

To test the science, students were given PCT samples to taste. Their reactions were amusing, particularly those who had two copies of the gene, making them "Super Tasters." The experience sparked many excellent debates both scientifically and ethically, providing a valuable opportunity for students to think critically about the applications and implications of genetic testing.

Our students had a captivating and enriching experience at the DNA Learning Centre. They learned a lot and had a valuable opportunity to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the future. We are grateful for the chance to have taken our students to such a world-class institution, and we are confident that this experience will have a lasting impact on their education and future careers.

Mark Curran

Head of Science