Madeleine, Year 13, writes about her fascinating placement at King’s College London’s Research Laboratories – sincere thanks to former parent Professor Corinne Houart who facilitated this.
During July this year, I completed two weeks of laboratory work experience in the prestigious King’s College London – dedicated to researching aspects of Developmental Neurobiology. The goal of the lab is to study neuronal growth and cell differentiation in the early stages of Zebrafish brain development. This research has been used to find treatments for various neurodegenerative diseases, such as FOXG1 syndrome. I learned about many concepts, laboratory methods and techniques which are covered in a Master’s degree (or even PhD) in Biology or Biomedical Sciences. At university, I am hoping to study Biomedical Sciences and later to research different fields of neuroscience or developmental biology. I anticipate my research would then either contribute to human knowledge or help synthesise new treatments for neurological diseases. Therefore, the work experience gave me insight into what my day-to-day routine would look like as a researcher. The highlight was definitely studying and performing practicals on real Zebrafish embryos (or getting lunch at Borough Market every day – it’s a close second!)
In the Zebrafish embryos, a GFP marker (a neon green fluorescent marker) was injected into motor neurons present in the spinal cord, so the outline of it could be viewed underneath a UV microscope with ease. During the second week of my placement, I analysed mouse embryos underneath a UV microscope, looking at neuron and eye cell formation. Adding fluorescent markers to the specimen is a lengthy process and took many days – many antibody washes had to be done, as well as antibody retrieval procedures, to make sure the markers bind to their specific cells in the mouse forebrain. However, all the hard work paid off when we saw results at the end of the week!
The experience provided me with excellent insights into the life of a researcher in a biological field. The staff and students were especially kind as well, and always willing to talk about their various projects in the lab.