Consortium Scientists Shake Things Up at BSGCT Public Education Day

Thursday, June 18th 2015

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Ann Doherty, University of Edinburgh

Approximately 300 National, Higher and Advanced Higher students, GCSE and A-level students attended the University of Strathclyde Technology & Innovation Centre for a one day introduction to gene and cell therapy ahead of the annual BSGCT Conference (BSGCT Gene Therapy and Stem Cells: 21st Century Medicine; a one day interactive event for the public and schools Tues 9th June 2015).


Gerry and Ann with our exhibition

During the lunchtime break the UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium provided hands on activities for pupils at an exhibitor stand. We used a quick and easy protocol to extract DNA using strawberries, detergent, salt and alcohol (see someone else's video of this on youtube). One student mentioned that this made science ‘seem cool’.


Strawberry DNA Extraction Kit

We also had a pair of inflating lungs to demonstrate the differences between normal and the diseased lungs of smokers. The lungs were a teaching kit of fixed pigs lungs one of which had been perfused with carbon to mimic the equivalent of a pack a day for 20 years.

They have added in an artificial tumour to show how this impedes lung function.The students enjoyed touching real lungs and were surprised by their size and made comments about how gross the smoking lungs looked.


Fixed Pig Lungs attached to an artificial ventillation kit

Students were also encouraged to try on an inflated vibrating vest used for airway clearance by patients with cystic fibrosis to loosen and thin mucous. Students enjoyed listening to their peers as they tried to continue singing as the vibration rate varied.


Poster on our MD Clinical Trial Presented on the day


Large scale lentivirus production in suspension culture.


Sheep lung parenchyma (cell nuclei blue) transduced with an adenoviral vector (green).


A cake that only some of us got to enjoy!


Pellets of DNA following precipitation.