Sanger 25 Genome Trip

Back in May we entered a short video into the 25 Genome international competition hosted by the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Sanger is a world leader in genome research, delivering insights into human and pathogen biology which contribute to modern medical and scientific advances. The success of our video entry meant that all year 14 a-level biology pupils had the chance to travel to the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridgeshire to work alongside scientists involved in the field of genomic studies.

Upon arriving at the campus, a formal welcome dinner was hosted where we were joined by guest speaker Dr Fiona Behan. Studying Molecular and Cell Biology at Trinity College Dublin, Dr Behan explained to us how she is now a leading scientist at the Sanger Institute, carrying out ground-breaking research into the prevention of several cancer types through genome sequencing. We all enjoyed listening to Dr Behan explain the complex nature of her lab work and how her experimental findings contribute to the development of cancer treatment drugs.

During our second day, we were given an in-depth tour of the campus which included the impressive BioData Innovation Centre. Here we were able to tour the state of the art lab facilities in which the 25 Genome Project was carried out, speaking with scientist about the progress of the sequencing procedure and also the importance of genome sequencing to the future of science.

We attended a lecture from a Sanger scientist working in the field of Malaria. He spoke of the complexity of the virus, stressing the importance of genomic technology in locating potential causes for Malaria and targeting these specific gene codes to manufacture preventative drugs against the disease. We also had the opportunity to visit various stem cell labs on campus where scientists were hard at work isolating and observing lab-cultured stem cells. We learnt how these cells would potentially be used to treat Alzheimer's, the complex neurodegenerative disease affecting normal brain function.

As a result of the trip, many of the girls have been inspired by the work they observed and are highly considering a career in research. On behalf of the class I would like to thank Mr Waters, Mr McConville and Miss Pearson for accompanying us on the trip.