Ellenbrook Christian College students visit Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research lab

Jonathan Walker and Montana Falloon at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.
Jonathan Walker and Montana Falloon at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

ELLENBROOK Christian College (ECC) students have taken part in a research into gene mutation in melanoma patients.

A group of 16 Year 12 students studied the mutations at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research teaching laboratory to provide hands on learning and experience on how they can identify them.

Student Montana Falloon said it was great experience being in a real laboratory working on real research.

“It’s really interesting to see the research processes actually in action with all of the equipment rather than trying to learn about it on a 2D level through a textbook,” she said.

Fellow student Jonathan Walker said he was hoping to become a doctor and really enjoyed the experience.

“It has been really interesting meeting all the scientists that work at Harry Perkins and learning about their journeys and how they went from being a school student like me to becoming a scientist and working in such a great institute,” he said.

The students set up a reaction in the laboratory that enabled them to analyse genetic material and identify the mutation using gene sequencing.

ECC Year 12 biology teacher Dania Woermann said it was a unique experience for the students to be exposed to.

“The program provided valuable insights from the scientist’s personal journeys to coverage a range of concepts from the West Australian curriculum,” she said.

Institute director Professor Peter Leedman said with one in 30 Australians diagnosed each year with potentially fatal cancer that develops in the skin’s pigment cells, the student’s research focus was highly relevant.

He said the institute had developed a specialised teaching laboratory, the Lotterywest BioDiscovery Centre to give students the opportunity to work with the latest technology and using the same equipment used by researchers at Harry Perkins.

“We offer students a unique opportunity to not only glimpse into the world of medical research, but to work in a functional research laboratory,” he said.

“They tackle activities that are relevant to current research and we ensure their work is linked directly to the school curriculum.”