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School students explore a method of DNA analysis at Jacobs University

May 28, 2018

For 20 students from schools of the national excellence school network MINT-EC, today (May 28th) marks the start of the MINT-EC camp on the topic of DNA analysis at Jacobs University Bremen. The participants come from all parts of Germany as well as Austria and Turkey. During the five day research camp, the students will work in labs and get to know student life in lectures and seminars. The camp's topic is the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a method of modern molecular biology that makes it possible to reproduce DNA sequences in a targeted manner.

PCR is therefore used not only in research labs but is also a central element in modern medical diagnostics. Furthermore, PCR is also used in securing evidence and in forensics as well as in detecting genetic modifications.

At the MINT-EC Camp at Jacobs University school students have the chance to experiment in a research laboratory. Photos: MINT-EC

During the MINT-EC camp at Jacobs University Bremen, the students will use PCR in two different tests: For one thing, they will test agricultural plants of different origins for genetic modifications by checking the presence of resistance to a herbicide (weed killer). In a second test, the young people will isolate DNA from human oral mucosal cells and copy so-called “minisatellite DNA,” which can be used in modern analytics to produce a genetic fingerprint.

Two university lecturers from Jacobs University's study course "Biochemistry and Cell Biology" will introduce the students to these methods. "It is important to us to enable them to experience modern methods of DNA analysis," says Dr. Susanne Illenberger, and her colleague Dr. Sonja Diercks-Horn adds: "And it's always nice to see with how much fun these students experiment with us. "
The theory for the tests will be conveyed in lectures; the results will be analysed and discussed in seminars. In a subsequent mini-symposium, the various uses of PCR as well as the advantages and dangers of modern genetic analysis will be discussed.

About MINT-EC – the national excellence school network
MINT-EC is the national excellence network of schools with Secondary Level II and a marked profile in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It was founded by employers in the year 2000 and works closely with regional educational initiatives. MINT-EC offers a broad selection of events and promotional opportunities for students as well as continued education and technical exchange programs for teachers and school administrators. The network with a current 295 certified schools, 315.000 students, and 25.000 teachers carries out its activities under the auspices of the Culture Minister Conference (KMK) of the states. The main sponsors of MINT-EC are the German metalworker employers association Arbeitgeberverband Gesamtmetall under the think ING initiative along with the Siemens Foundation and Bavarian employer associations vbm bayme / vbw.