On Thursday the 13 August, the Year 12 Human Biology students travelled to Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Nedlands. Harry Perkins is the leading medical research centre in Western Australia, focusing on treatments for cancer and diabetes.
The research institute has also begun working on developing a vaccine for COVID-19 in the hope to contribute valuable knowledge to health professionals, that will help to reduce the spread of the virus.
The day at Harry Perkins began with students taking part in a Polymerase-Chain Reaction Challenge. The stakes were high and winning meant being placed on the Harry Perkins state-wide leaderboard. Once Taq-hats were on, the students morphed into Taq-polymerase enzymes, replicating DNA like their life depended on it!
Once the fun and games were over, the Human Biology students exchanged their Taq-hats for lab coats and the serious business began. In the laboratories, the students got to learn first-hand about a number of important laboratory techniques. These included the analysis of DNA, hands-on investigation using techniques such as PCR, Gel-electrophoresis and DNA profiling to identify mutations associated with cancer caused by melanoma.
The techniques the students were able to carry out are applicable across a wide range of forensics and biotechnological applications. This provided a unique opportunity for students to cement their learning in-class by applying their knowledge in a functional research laboratory.
Students also had the opportunity to work side by side with medical professionals, a PhD student and an honours student completing study at UWA. This was a fantastic networking opportunity for students to ask questions about University or future options they may be interested in medicine and medical research.