Tuesday 22 June 2010

From meningitis to maggots at sixth form conference

Petri dishes
Bioscience is on the agenda at a Nottingham Trent University Sixth Form Conference

Meningitis bacteria, In vitro fertilisation (IVF) ethics and growing dinosaurs are all on the agenda at Nottingham Trent University's Sixth Form Bioscience Conference on Thursday 1 July 2010.

Up to 130 Year 12 students from 18 schools and colleges will be attending the full-day conference-style event to experience bioscience at the University and beyond.

During the day, students will take part in various lab sessions on topics such as Follow that Maggot, using blowfly larvae (maggots) to make forensic assessments following the discovery of a body; Genes in a Bottle, students will extract their own DNA from cheek cells and take it home in a bottle; and The Life and Death of Cells, after identifying and classifying a number of different cells growing in culture, students will induce the cells to die and watch the process happen.

Guest speaker Dr Simon Fishel, from CARE Fertility, will talk about the science, medicine and ethics of IVF technology, while Dr Stephanie McArdle, from the University-based John van Geest Cancer Research Centre, will discuss using the immune system to treat cancer.

There will also be presentations on a number of other topics, including Profiling Cronobacter, how modern bioinformatics can be used to investigate cases of meningitis in very young children; and Lets Grow a Dinosaur, investigating Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and the possibility of recreating extinct species.

The event has been organised by the University's Schools, Colleges and Community Outreach team with the bioscience team from the School of Science and Technology. Students are attending from a number of schools, including Joseph Whitaker School, Christ the King School, Nottingham Girls High School, Nottingham Academy, South Wolds School, Trent College, Landau Forte College and Kimberley School.

Michael Loughlin, microbiology lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, said: "This conference coincides with the United Nations 2010 International Year of Biodiversity and aims to give pupils a taste of the vital and diverse bioscience industry. They will learn about current bioscience topics in both university and business and will hopefully be inspired to look further at careers in this area."

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