This school year, Irish secondary school teachers again have the chance to bring the Amgen Biotech Experience programme into their classrooms. In the past six weeks, we held three Saturday and three evening courses to train teachers in using our state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. Experiments included DNA profiling to solve a crime scene scenario, molecular cutting and pasting of DNA plasmids, and for the first time, the identification of a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in a taste receptor gene. Participating teachers were able to amplify their own taste receptor gene via polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Five PCR machines are now available for teachers to borrow over the coming months.
Presenting speakers included staff from the local Amgen Inc. facility in Dun Laoghaire, researchers from the Biomedical Diagnostic Institute, DCU, as well as Dr. Emmeline Hill, co-founder of Equinome (now part of Plusvital Ireland Ltd), who identified a gene that determines the sprinting ability of race horses. In total, 63 teachers from 45 schools attended the training courses. They are now looking forward to borrowing the equipment for their students, allowing them to experience science hands-on.