‘SynBioKP continues to transform theory into practice’
Peshawar, 18th May, 2017 –
The Institute of Integrative Biosciences (IIB), CECOS University and the Directorate of Science & Technology (K-P Government) carry on to endorse educational events for the young Life Sciences students. ‘The Future Is Now’ (TFN) is a series of events under the banner of SynBioKP that aims to invest in the successive peer group of students by providing them with trainings, moots and discussion sessions. As declared by the IIB director, Dr. Faisal F. Khan, the ‘LabSkills Certificate Programme’ continues to fill in the gaps between scientific theory and practical lab skills. The Batch-2 of LabSkills, like its precursor Batch-1, was an educational lab experience directed to facilitate a pro-active training in the principal methods used in micro/molecular biology labs.
The program was organized at the IIB, CECOS Peshawar, on the 17th and 18th May, 2017. Similar to the first training in this series, the subsequent program also brought in 16 students from around K-P, who trained with expert researchers on hi-tech laboratory apparatus. “We need to organize such events more frequently that promote science in all its authenticity, which obviously lies in hands-on experience. This is the very thing we lack in Pakistan…” said Mr. Adil, the Undergraduate Research Coordinator at IIB.
Mr. Adil initiated the program with a preliminary session and warmly welcomed the students. Afterwards, there was a briefing session in which students were informed about the present-day trends in ‘synthetic biology’ together with its prospects in Pakistan. The information regarding the project ‘SynBioKP’ including TFN, Community Meetups and iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machines) was also provided. Following this, the students learnt about ‘foundation tools of synthetic biology’ and ‘basics of solutions and pipetting’.
After a comprehensive seminar, the participants marched towards the lab. The IIB has one of the most sophisticated biotech labs in Pakistan. The equipment inside the lab is topnotch, possessing instruments that are required in modern-day research. Miss Abida Zulfiqar (Research Associate, IIB) directed the students with lab safeguards and fundamental knowledge of the equipment involving micropipettes, micro centrifuge etc. Soon after, the students were guided thoroughly in preparation of certain elementary solutions. Miss Sarah F. Khan, another researcher at the IIB (iGEM fellow), along with Miss Abida and Mr Ismail (also an iGEM fellow) instructed the students in ‘Miniprep Protocol’, a process used to isolate plasmid DNA from bacterial cells which was performed by classical- as well as kit-method. The students streaked bacterial colonies creating incredible designs, known commonly as ‘BioArt’. With the conclusion of day one, the students observed lab protocol, wrote reports, and were provided with reading materials for the day.
Day two of LabSkills opened with a written follow-up quiz and activities for students. After the quiz, they continued with compound procedures including Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), Agarose Gel Electrophoresis and Restriction Digest. All the processes were proficiently taught by the instructors and consequently performed by each participant individually, to ensure individual learning. The students also studied why and how to cleave DNA at specific points by examining the restriction digests on agarose gel.
The Director of the Directorate of Science & Technology, Mr Zahoor Ul Haq honored the occasion through his presence, motivated the students in his speech, and encouraged them to pursue their goals. His speech marked the end of the program. All participants were awarded certificates for their sincere partaking. Special prizes were presented to the winners of BioArt Competition, Best Report Writing, Best Bio Fact, and Quiz. Group photos were shot.