A group of our Year 9 and 10 Science students had the opportunity to participate in a Challenge and Enrichment Program offered by GTAC (Gene Technology Access Centre) on Thursday 4 and Friday 5 August 2022.

GTAC was established at University High School, Parkville in late 2000. It was developed in collaboration with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, spearheaded by their director, Professor Suzanne Cory; and the Department of Immunology at The University of Melbourne.

GTAC forms a unique partnership between students, teachers and research scientists.

Students firstly completed an online course, preparing them for their research project at GTAC.

They then participated in a full day excursion to GTAC laboratories, where they worked in groups of six with their Science Mentors who are currently working on Doctorate and PhD projects, with Medical and Veterinary focus. Their mentors guided them to generate DNA barcodes for Cloacina parasites which infest Wallabies, Quokkas and Kangaroo. They looked at Cloacina under state-of-the-art microscopes, then generated DNA using polymerase chain reactions and gel electrophoresis. Their DNA barcodes were then sent to AGRF (Australian Genome Research Facility) for sequencing.

Once their results are sequenced, students will participate in an online workshop where they will use Bioinformatics programs to analyse the DNA data sets and barcodes generated while at GTAC. These results will become part of the extensive research data being collected by AGRF to understand changes in DNA over time of Cloacina Species in Australian wildlife.

The teachers received excellent feedback from the GTAC Education Officers:

Thank you to you and your students for coming to GTAC last Friday, it was a lovely two days we had them in the centre!  Your students were really engaged, listened well, and the GTAC staff had a great time with them. They were excellent representatives for St Albans Secondary College.”

Thank you to Mr Goldbaum for organising and nominating our students for this program and to Ms Borle, Ms Miskovic and Ms Mortimer who also attended the excursions.