Students given science insight

Martin Inskip of MSD with summer school students
Martin Inskip of MSD with summer school students

SCIENTIFIC students from the borough continued with their studies at the start of the six-week summer holidays by taking part in a ground-breaking summer school.

Newcastle Science City joined forces with Newcastle University’s Institute of Genetic Medicine, based at the Centre for Life, and the Bioinformatics Support Unit to host one of the country’s first bioinformatics summer schools, sponsored by healthcare leaders MSD.

It was specifically targeted at improving the skills of A-level mathematics students who are currently studying maths, physics and biology.

And students from John Spence Community High and St Thomas More RC High School, both in North Shields, took part in the event.

The school focused on DNA, RNA and proteins and was led by Dr Sushma Nagaraja Grellscheid and Dr Simon Cockell, of Newcastle University.

Karen Marshall, education skills and community engagement manager at Newcastle Science City, said: “The summer school was specifically designed to fill the ‘maths gap’ that we know exists between students studying maths and sciences at A-level and the mathematical competencies required from university.

“We are making real breakthroughs in science education here and this type of project has never been done before in the country, although there is a recognised need to address the issue.

“The students taking part benefited enormously from the event.

“They were given access to professional world-class facilities, used cutting-edge software developed by the university that hasn’t even been published yet, gained experience of the world of work and impressed us by studying to a level normally set for those studying for masters degrees.”

The three-day event was aimed at highlighting the varied research careers in the field of life sciences and provide an introduction to bioinformatics – the application of computer science and information technology in the field of biology – and is part of work to ensure Newcastle retains its enviable position within the knowledge economy.