08 August 2018 Volume :6 Issue :36

Exposing Young Minds to Advanced Science

Exposing Young Minds to Advanced Science
UKZN KRISP postdoctoral and postgraduate students with high school students who participated in the training.

The KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) and Thermo Fisher Scientific are collaboratively engaged in building skills in specialised molecular biology techniques; DNA amplification, sequencing and bioinformatics. 

This endeavour kicked off on 6 July 2018 with a full day training on DNA Amplification technique known as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR); a technique used in molecular biology to amplify a segment of DNA across several orders of magnitude, generating thousands to millions of copies of a particular DNA sequence. Since the discovery, PCR triggered many valuable developments in several medical disciplines.

Participants in the training programme included postgraduate students from UKZN as well as pupils from various local high schools.

On a global scale, scientists are committed to finding ways to resolve complex health issues, environmental issues and to protect the planet. There is a need for continuous advancement of knowledge and innovation in sciences. This calls for continuous injection of highly skilled professionals and researchers in various science disciplines. Expert researchers from KRISP at UKZN and the Thermo Fisher Scientific team are driven by the need to build capacity for high quality research and cutting-edge science in Africa.

The KRISP/Thermo Fisher capacity development programme is aimed at offering training in genetic technologies to academics as well as the wider community outside the academic space. The programme offers training ranging from highly advanced to basic molecular biology techniques for inexperienced participants including high school learners.

In this course, participants learnt the basics of PCR. They extracted and amplified DNA using Thermo Fisher Scientific Direct PCR Kits, which are designed to deliver ultimate convenience by allowing PCR directly from crude samples. The training covered basic theory on molecular biology, introduction to PCR, consumables and applications of the technique.

The most fascinating aspect of the training, particularly for high school learners, was the practical training where they worked with scientists at the KRISP laboratory. ‘Working in such an advanced genetics laboratory extracting DNA was the most interesting experience as it is not done in high schools,’ said one of the high school participants.

Words: Gugulethu MkhizePranusha Naidoo and Tulio de Oliveira

Photographs: Supplied by KRISP

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