College Biology Students Visit Liggins Institute

June 30, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Last week the College Year 13 IB Biology students visited the Liggins Institute in Grafton, Auckland. This facility is a research unit for the University of Auckland, with a focus on translational research on fetal and child health; the impact of nutrition on health throughout life; epigenetic regulation of growth and development; and evolutionary medicine.

The students attended a number of sessions over the course of a day, each of which provided valuable insights into the working lives of professional research Scientists and the contributions they make to society. Much of what is used in applied areas such as medicine and manufacturing are the result of meticulous and methodical research carried out in institutes such as this.

The day began with an introductory seminar on fetal development and how the maternal environment in particular can influence health in later years, with an emphasis on an area of increasing interest known as Epigenetics, which describes non-genetic changes to DNA and the subsequent expression of these genes and the associated effects. Laboratory work was undertaken, exploring DNA amplification using the Polymerase Chain Reaction and DNA profiling using Gel Electrophoresis. The final session was an opportunity to talk directly with research Scientists about the requirements of a working scientist and their particular career pathways, while also outlining their current research projects.

The opportunity to visit the Liggins Institute proved to be both insightful and stimulating to Biology students who may now consider the further opportunities that can come from their continuing education.

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