Bedford School and Mark Rutherford School Sixth Form students are working collaboratively on a pioneering and challenging research project that could help change the lives of children around the world.
Working together directly with scientists from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and European Bioinformatics Institute, the biology students from the two schools are helping to identify all of the genes in the Human Whipworm (Trichuris Trichiura) using a process known as annotation. The Human Whipworm is a parasitic worm which affects 500 million people, mainly children, worldwide; causing diarrhoea, abdominal pain, malnutrition and severe developmental problems.
The ground-breaking project, led by The Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS), incorporates exciting research into education; giving the Bedford students the opportunity to contribute directly to the understanding of a significant global pathogen and the development of new treatments and vaccines.
This is not the first project for the two schools, who have been working in partnership on a number of projects for over two years as part of the Independent State Schools Partnerships (ISSP) initiative: ‘Schools Together’, which encourages independent schools and state schools to collaborate, provide pupil enrichment opportunities and support the community.
Tracy Jakins, Second in Department in Science at Mark Rutherford, told us, “The partnership regarding this project, in particular, is proving to be a rewarding and positive experience for all students involved.”
Bedford School student, Laurence Pleuger, was recently identified as one of the top annotators on the project and, as a result, will be joining the scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge over the summer to help them on the project. Laurence was able to share the secrets of his success with the students from Mark Rutherford during their latest session at Bedford School. The students were so enthused by their visit and were able to continue to work on the project with more confidence in their own time.