November 24, 2006
Bingo, ball games and a quiz show – CSCB hosts RDS Science Live Demonstration lectures
Three UCD recipients of RDS Science Live Demonstration Lecture bursaries
gave their presentations at a number of locations during October and
November. The RDS Science Live series is designed to devise interesting ways
of bringing 'science to life' and the three scientists took up this
challenge, bringing UCD research to secondary school pupils from over 20
schools with their imaginative and interactive lectures.
On November 21, the CSCB hosted 40 pupils from St. Tiernan's Community
School and Caritas College for two RDS Science Live demonstration lectures. Dr Annette Byrne, Senior Research Fellow with the CSCB and UCD Conway Institute, brought the audience on a fascinating journey of the development of a cancer drug in her presentation "From Molecules. to Man! How to make a Cancer Drug in 60 minutes". Dr Byrne also delivered her lecture at the RDS
and at the UCD Conway Institute.
Dr Byrne's inspiring presentation brought the students directly into the
world of cancer drug discovery, describing how cancer drugs make their way
into the clinic, from the moment a chemist and biologist come together with
an idea, through the various stages of pre-clinical screening of tumour
cells in the lab and subsequently on the patient.
Six brainy volunteers had their new-found knowledge tested in the "Who wantsto be a Superbrain?" quiz. The pressure was on as contestants availed of the"Ask your teacher" lifeline, and the winning team left, maybe not as
millionaires, but hopefully inspired to join the fight to make cancer a
treatable disease in the future.
For the second lecture of the day, the students were taken on a tour down
the rapids, following the route of cells in the blood as they make their way
through the body. The complexities of the blood brain barrier (BBB) were
imaginatively brought to life by Dr Sean Callanan, UCD Conway investigator
and lecturer in the UCD School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary
Dr Callanan's interactive presentation entitled "Inflame Your Brain" has been
held at the RDS and in the Veterinary Science building as part of the
UCD Conway Institute Science Alive seminars. The BBB acts like a 'nightclub bouncer' protecting the brain from cells, chemicals and micro-organisms. To help visualise exactly how the BBB works, audience members put on coloured T-shirts representing lymphocytes, neurons and astrocytes, and attempted to throw balls through a 2m high and 3m wide model of the BBB.
Finishing with an insight into his own research on feline immunodeficiency
virus (FIV), which affects cats in a similar manner to HIV in humans, Dr
Callanan explained how the blood brain barrier becomes 'leaky', allowing the virus to inflame the brain.
Dr Orla Donoghue from the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology first presented "Do Sparks Fly when Chemists meet Biologists?" as part of the UCD Conway Institute Science Alive seminar series on October 12 to 89 students
from Colaiste de hIde, Tallaght, CBS Synge St, Firhouse Community College,
and Colaiste Phadraig, Lucan.
The following week, 127 students from Notre Dame, Churchtown and Mount
Anville filled the UCD Conway lecture theatre to take part in the lively
introduction to contemporary research in chemistry and biology. In
addition, a total of 85 students from 13 Dublin schools visited the CSCB to
hear Dr Donoghue's presentation.
The lecture tackled the science behind some current news stories,
emphasising how scientists take inspiration from nature to design drugs and
dispelling some myths of the beauty industry. Skin ageing was poignantly
illustrated through the ups and downs in the life of a free radical as it
loses and then finds a partner!
In keeping with Science Week 2006 theme of "Science in our Future" Dr
Donoghue finished by describing how chemical engineers from UCD are joining
global efforts to combat climate change by designing a system to capture
carbon dioxide from exhaust fumes and outlining their vision for the
alcohol-fuelled cars of the future!
The audience then cheered on their schools as volunteers took on the task of
building molecules against the clock, and then it was just eyes down for the
finale, a game of "Chemical Bingo".
To find out how your school can visit the CSCB at UCD, please send an email to Science@CSCB