UCD NVRL brings the Cell EXPLORERS “Fantastic DNA!” roadshow to Dublin


Extracting Banana DNA and building a DNA double helix was just some of the tasks tackled by fifth class students in St Attracta’s Senior National School, Dundrum under the supervision of eight scientists from the UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL) recently (11th May 2017).

Dr Jaythoon Hassan introduces the DNA double helix to young scientists 

Designed to bring the laboratory to the classroom, research scientists from UCD NVRL rolled out a roadshow called the Cell EXPLORERS “Fantastic DNA!” The roadshow was dubbed a success when a couple of the eleven year olds declared:

“I really enjoyed this science activity, it was really great....”

“Thank you for teaching us about science...you all were so nice....”


‌UCD NVRL scientists supporting Cell EXPLORERS (l-r) Noreen Sheehy, Ed O’Kelly,
Nichola Gleeson, Karen McGibney, Niamh Crowley, Jaythoon Hassan, Fanny Martini and Virginie Gautier.

 Almost 50 primary school children donned their white laboratory coats under the supervision of the UCD NVRL team of scientists. UCD NVRL, in partnership with Cell EXPLORERS, aims to deliver this science outreach programme to a number of Dublin-based schools over the next two years. Cell EXPLORERS UCD NVRL Coordinators Dr. Jaythoon Hassan (Senior Clinical Scientist) and Ms. Karen McGibney (Educational Development Officer) are keen to build on the success of this first Dublin roadshow.


‌Young scientist builds DNA double helix   

Karen explained: “Fantastic DNA is a hands-on science session designed to allow every child to practice science in their own classroom. We call these budding scientists ‘explorers’ as they discover DNA by actually extracting some themselves, and by building their own DNA double helix. It is through this hands-on experience that they discover cellular and molecular biology.”

‌Question time during "Fantastic DNA!" roadshow at St Attracta's Senior National School, Dundrum

For participating schools, the programme is free. UCD NVRL intends to create three more pop-up classroom laboratories in the run up to National Science Week (12-19 November 2017). Teachers who would like more information should email cellexplorersnvrlucd@gmail.com


The Cell EXPLORERS partnership with UCD NVRL, and the expansion of the programme to other institutions, is funded by Science Foundation Ireland under its Discover Programme.,



The genesis of Cell EXPLORERS lies in a pilot outreach project in NUI Galway in 2012. More recently, a national expansion of the model into other higher education institutions allows more school children to experience the world of science.


For further information visit www.cellexplorers.com or follow Cell EXPLORERS on Facebook or Twitter.



The UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL) provides a nationwide diagnostic and reference service for clinicians investigating virus infections. The Laboratory is accredited to ISO/IEC 15189:2012 by the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB), registration number 326MT. NVRL is also accredited by the World Health Organisation as a WHO National Laboratory for Poliovirus, Measles, Rubella and Influenza.