Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Simon Rudge and students at Babraham's UTC Protein Challenge

Babraham Institute researchers put UTC students through their protein paces

Sixty Year 12 students from Cambridge’s University Technical College Cambridge are today starting a bespoke six week project developed by Babraham Institute scientists and based around research at the Institute. The Institute is one of the University Technical College (UTC) Cambridge sponsors.
The Protein Challenge project has been developed by Dr Simon Rudge, a senior research scientist at the Babraham Institute. The project allows students to become immersed in hands-on science and benefit from the life science expertise of the Institute. The Babraham Institute, which is strategically-funded by the BBSRC, is an international centre of research expertise in understanding the fundamental biological processes of life and how these are affected by ageing. The project includes a visit to the Institute to tour the world-leading scientific facilities and meet the scientists carrying out pioneering research.
In the project, students will be taught essential lab skills as they produce and assay the activity of two forms of a protein (a normal and a mutated form) called PTEN. The PTEN gene, which encodes the PTEN protein, is mutated in many types of cancer. The project will take the students through the steps of replicating DNA, bulking up DNA to the amounts needed for analysis, and protein identification and activity assays – providing essential training in techniques used by researchers as standard investigative methods. The practical element of the Challenge will be complemented by seminars delivered by Babraham Institute staff and representatives from associated research industries. These will ensure that students understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the research techniques used as well as widening their background knowledge. It will also give them valuable insight into the vast number of career choices open to students in this field.
Dr Simon Rudge said: “The aim of the Protein Challenge is to introduce students to the research process, from undertaking a risk assessment to carrying out the project, learning how to perform the techniques through to writing up the results. Our involvement with the UTC Cambridge builds upon the Babraham Institute’s successful schools work and adds an exciting new dimension to our commitment to explaining the science we’re involved in.”
Dr Alistair Easterfield, Head of Science at UTC Cambridge, said: “The involvement of our partners in designing and delivering the Challenge Projects offers students an experience that they wouldn’t receive in a traditional learning environment. By close interaction with the Babraham Institute staff over the next six weeks, our students will not only learn essential lab skills and techniques, but also about computational methods, risk assessment and the technologies that make scientific research possible. These experiences really open their eyes to the world of possibilities offered by choosing a scientific career.”

Image description:

Dr Simon Rudge (left) with UTC students at the launch of the Protein Challenge project.

Notes for editors:

The Babraham Institute, which receives strategic funding (a total of £28.8M in 2013-14) from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), undertakes international quality life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. The Institute’s research provides greater understanding of the biological events that underlie the normal functions of cells and the implication of failure or abnormalities in these processes. Research focuses on signalling and genome regulation, particularly the interplay between the two and how epigenetic signals can influence important physiological adaptations during the lifespan of an organism. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and healthier ageing.
University Technical College (UTC) Cambridge is a new regional centre for science education located in Cambridge. UTC Cambridge opened in September in a new £10 million state of the art building next to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. The building contains well equipped teaching laboratories en par with many of the country’s top universities and the one of the largest lecture theatres in Cambridge. UTC Cambridge is an academy school open to 14-18 year old students with a passion for science, its remit is to prepare local students for local jobs in the biomedical, technology and cleantech sectors.
UTC Cambridge Sponsors:
  • Cambridge University Health Partners
  • Cambridge Regional College
  • Babraham Institute
  • Napp Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical Research Council
  • Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
  • Long Road Sixth Form College
  • Parkside Federation Academies
  • Cambridge Cleantech
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • East of England NHS
  • Anglian Water
  • The Cube
  • AmeyCespa
  Contact: Louisa Wood, Communications Manager Babraham Institute Tel: 01223 496230 Mob: 07833 481170


19 January, 2015