The Goldsmith’s Company which is one of the Great Twelve Livery Companies in the City of London sponsor Science for Society courses and this summer, Framlingham College Biology teacher, Dr Ruth Noble attended one of their prestigious, intensive 5 day lecture and laboratory Genetics courses from Sunday 15 – Friday 20 July 2012, in Cambridge, which covered the latest recombinant DNA genetic techniques, with 12 other delegates from around the country.
This course, which is run as a partnership between three charitable organisations, the Wellcome Trust, the Goldsmiths Company and Villiers Park Charitable Trust, is designed to give biology teachers practical experience in the latest genetic laboratory techniques.
The course coordinators, Dr Jonathan Marchant, University of Minnesota, and Dr Sarah Rudman, Consultant Oncologist, Guys and St Thomas’, led and ran the seminars and practical sessions at Villiers Park, Foxton. In addition to explaining the theoretical basis of the practicals, they also explained the recent research developments, in genetic methods and molecular pathology. There were additional seminars given by visiting speakers, both clinicians and healthcare scientists about such healthcare issues as cancer, ischaemic heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
The whole course visited the world renowned Sanger Centre (Human Genome Campus) at Hinxton, Cambridge where they were given talks on malaria and pathogenic bacteria followed by a tour of the Centre which included visiting the laboratories with the machines carrying out the continued work on mapping the human genome.
The course was very practically orientated so covered such practical techniques as the Polymerase Chain Reaction (a standard DNA amplification technique), the latest gel electrophoresis techniques and extraction of mitochondrial DNA from hair follicles (donated by the delegates!).
Each delegate also used Green Fluorescent Protein, extracted from Aequoria victoria, a jellyfish, in the process of bacterial transformation of E. Coli bacteria, using the pGLO plasmid, so that if successful, these bacteria would now exhibit the green fluorescence. As you can see from the photo, there were some very impressive results!
The final highlight of the week, in celebration of completion of the course, was attendance at a Gala Dinner, at the Goldsmith’s Livery Company, London. The surroundings, with millions of pounds of gold on show, a magnificent dinner, and the company of all the delegates from all the Science for Society Courses sponsored by the Goldsmith’s Company was a fitting spectacular end to what had been an amazing week, full of opportunities to learn and experience new techniques, make new friends and enjoy the chance to do the learning. I will be singing the praises of this experience to all my colleagues so do not be surprised if there is a sudden increase in the uptake from the Suffolk area!