Student plating out transformed E. coli
Student plating out transformed E. coli

The research immersion programs are open to all senior year 10, 11 and 12 students and teachers throughout Queensland. NOTE: Students must be at least 15 years old to participate in the Immersion program.

Students participating in the research immersion programs can opt to complete an additional assessment piece which can earn them a point under the University of Queensland's Bonus Ranks Scheme. More information about this option can be found here.

Student participants are selected through an application process via their school. Applications consist of a section where the applicant writes to stated criteria (interest in science and previous experience working on science related projects) and consideration of the applicant's academic performance. All applications are verified by a school staff contact.

Upcoming Immersions:

  • 3 April – 7 April 2017 (years 11 and 12 only) Booked out

Mobile DNA elements (i.e. retrotransposons or “jumping genes”) are known to be critical drivers of evolution. Their mobilisation has been widely studied in many disease states including cancer. This SPARQ-Ed program will revolve around conducting cellular assays to measure the activity of retrotransposons utilizing a reporter-gene assay based on the “green fluorescent protein”. The assays will specifically highlight the role of key enzymes involved in the retrotransposition process. Students will be immersed in conducting modern-day research techniques including cell culture, transfection of cells with DNA, followed by techniques to measure reporter-gene activity, including flow-cytometric and microscopy based analysis. Within this immersion students will be exposed, at a high level, to the technology of flow cytometry. Flow cytometry is a cell analysis technique capable of analyzing up to 10,000’s cells per second. Such analysis can measure multiple parameters of cells with the current state-of-the-art being around 40 different parameter. This course will also demonstrate how cells of a given phenotype can be sorted as to achieve a highly pure population of cells for further forms of analysis.  
Dr. Patricia Carreira & Dr. David Sester 

  • 19-23 June (last week term 2) Project to be announced
  • 26 June - 30 June (years 10, 11, 12) Residential regional and remote student immersion (min age 15 years) - accommodation Kings College, UQ. Dr Aaron Smith - Project to be announced
  • Booked out 3 July-7 July (years 10, 11, 12) Dr Brian Gabrielli - Project to be announced
  • 11-15 September (years 10, 11, 12) Project to be announced
  • 18-22 September - Regional and remote teacher immersion (1 teacher per school - sponsored event) - DNA repair proteins looking at chromosomes as a way to understand cancer mutations - QUT Eloise Dray - eloise.dray@qut.edu.au
  • 25-29 September (years 10, 11, 12) - Dr Andrew Brooks - Project to be announced
  • 27 November - 1 December (years 10 and 11 only) - Dr Nikolas Haass - Dynamic tumour heterogeneity in melanoma therapy: exploring this using a novel model system
Professor Nikolas Haass is a clinician scientist specializing in skin cancers. His team specialize in three-dimensional cell culture models, which recreate the correct interactions of the melanoma with its tumour microenvironment and thus predict the effects of drugs on the tumour in a much better way than the conventional two-dimensional cell culture models. His team apply cutting-edge intravital multi-photon microscopy.
 
In this project students will work with Prof. Haass’s model to identify what causes acquired multidrug tol­erance in melanoma. Using the Fluorescent ubiquitination-based cell cycle indicator (FUCCI)-system, cutting edge imaging technology, participants will explore the biology of dynamic heterogeneity, which is critical for the develop­ment of novel melanoma treatment strategies such as drug sensitivity and resistance.
  • 4-8 December (years 10 and 11 only) - Dr Timothy Wells - Project to be announced

How to apply (students should complete the initial expression of interest form) 

  1. Complete this Online Application form to register your expression of interest indicating which Immersion dates you are interested in
  2. If your application is successful you will be required to fill out an additional form and submit your two most recent academic reports and a brief recommendation from a current science/mathematics teacher
  3. You will then complete a payment form indicating whether you or the school are paying the fee  (payment will be deducted 2-3 weeks prior to the start of the Immersion)
  4. If you are a regional or remote student you are encouraged to apply for a Lion's Medical Research Foundation bursary to assist with travel and accommodation costs (see below for more information)


Please Note: If you are having trouble accessing the above link, please conact the SPARQ-ed team at sparqed@uq.edu.au.

Teacher participants are welcome and are encouraged to contact the coordinator at sparqed@uq.edu.au to apply.

Fees: Government school students $300, Non-Government school students $550 (this fee covers catering, materials and staffing tutor costs)

PLEASE NOTE: FEES ARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE STUDENT, UNLESS A PRIOR ARRANGEMENT HAS BEEN MADE WITH THE SCHOOL. FEES FOR GOVERNMENT STUDENTS ARE ABLE TO BE OFFERED AT A REDUCED RATE DUE TO FUNDING PROVIDED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING.

Previous Immersion projects from 2016

Dynamic tumour heterogeneity in melanoma therapy: exploring this using a novel model system (click here for course pre readings and resources)

Associate Professor Nikolas Haass is a clinician scientist specializing in skin cancers. His team specialize in three-dimensional cell culture models, which recreate the correct interactions of the melanoma with its tumour microenvironment and thus predict the effects of drugs on the tumour in a much better way than the conventional two-dimensional cell culture models. His team apply cutting-edge intravital multi-photon microscopy.

In this project students will work with Assoc. Prof. Haass’s model to identify what causes acquired multidrug tol­erance in melanoma. Using the Fluorescent ubiquitination-based cell cycle indicator (FUCCI)-system, cutting edge imaging technology, participants will explore the biology of dynamic heterogeneity, which is critical for the develop­ment of novel melanoma treatment strategies such as drug sensitivity and resistance.

DNA breast cancer gene mutations and genome rearrangement

Dr. Eloise Dray's team are researching genome mutations in breast cancer patients. Some cancer cells have what is called a ‘hot’ genome. It means that they accumulate mutations at a higher rate than normal cells, which not only contributes to the cancer phenotype but also makes the cells become resistant to treatment.

In this project, students will visualize the chromosomes of various breast cancer cells lines, and cells containing patient mutations, to investigate whether their genome undergoes physical rearrangement as they grow in normal media or after treatment with drugs

Immersion Resources

Turning off the Immune response in Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers: investigating anti-collagen II (AC II) antibodies

Professor Ranjeny Thomas and her team are developing treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) sufferers to target and turn off the immune response to specific self-antigens, such as citrullinated peptides or collagen II. In this project students will test  anti-collagen II antibodies in patients with RA and at-risk relatives, and determine whether they are produced at higher levels in patients carrying HLA-DRB1 RA-susceptibility genes.  (click here for more information....)

 

Purifying the guardian of your genome hSSB1

Associate Professor Derek Richard’s team are investigating the cellular processes that allow cells to cope with genomic stress and how these processes are modified in disease. This research centres on the initial basic discoveries of how these processes function in normal cells to prevent disease, and then how these pathways go wrong in diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  In this project students will work with researchers from Associate Professor Derek Richard’s team to amplify and purify the human protein hSSB1 for use in experiments that will address how this protein functions at the molecular level within our cells. (click here for more information....)

 


Link to LMRF Regional and Remote Student Scholarship

Thanks to the generous support of the Lions Medical Research Foundation, we can now offer scholarships to students from regional and remote Queensland to assist in costs associated with travel and accommodation. Click on the link above to find out more.


Quick Links:


The flagship service offered by SPARQ-ed is the Research Immersion Program. These programs are week-long enrichment activities offered to senior students and teachers in which participants undertake a scientific project devised in collaboration with one of the world renowned research groups within TRI's partner institutes.

For each research immersion program, a project is designed which can be carried out by the participants over the course of five consecutive days. The project aim is normally to perform research to answer a question which is connected to the work of the contributing group. If all goes according to plan, the work done by the participants should be able to contribute to the work of the research group. These programs are conducted in a dedicated teaching laboratory on the ground floor of TRI, under the supervision of a Coordinator (an experienced registered science teacher) and tutors drawn from TRI's post-graduate students.

In past projects, participants have used advanced cell and molecular biology techniques to create gene constructs used in research into metabolic disorders and prostate cancer, create libraries of mutated versions of genes important in molecular virology and cancer research, cloned segments of genes involved in the regulation of the cell cycle and observed the localisation and function of important proteins within cancer cells. The techniques used included the polymerase chain reaction, site-directed mutagenesis, genetic recombination and transformation of bacteria, DNA sequencing and fluorescence and confocal microscopy. In carrying out these techniques, participants learn how the theory they learn in the classroom is put into practical use.

Cancer cells photographed by Project 3 participants using fluorescent microscopyIn addition to the experimental program, participants have the opportunity to interact with a dynamic group of students and scientists as they try solve some of the pressing biomedical issues facing society. Participants attend research seminars at the cutting edge of biomedical science, learn valuable academic research skills in a tutorial at the Pharmacy Australian Centre of Excellence (PACE) medical library and develop their skills in science communication with the aid of UQDI's resident science writer. The culmination of the week is a closing symposium where participants present their findings to the staff and students of TRI.

 

 

 

SPARQ-ed Research Immersion Programs section

DNA breast cancer gene mutations resources

DNA resources

Resources for hSSB1 Immersion

  All Students: Please download the following papers, read through them and complete the summary table. You will need to bring this table with you for the library session on the first day. Summary table to complete
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