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School students show what’s new in heart genetics

In September 2014, two pupils from Kingsdale Foundation School in South London spent a week as public engagement assistants in our NIHR cardiovascular biomedical research unit - cBRU.  Saskia Cole and Annie Hines, both aged 15 years, worked alongside Julia Coffey, cBRU public engagement coordinator, to gain experience in bringing science and clinical research to public audiences.

Saskia and Annie’s job for the week was to find out about our research into the genetics of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart condition that affects the heart muscle causing it to weaken and pump less efficiently. To find out more about the research and why it is important to patients and families, they interviewed some of the researchers and clinicians involved. 

At the end of the week, Saskia and Annie helped put on a display for patients, public and staff in the Royal Brompton reception area, showcasing what they had found out about this research.

The exhibit proved very popular and provided an opportunity for the pupils to show what they had discovered. Visitors to the display found out about the importance of mutations in Titin which plays an important role in heart muscle structure and function, and what we understand so far of their relevance in DCM patients.

CBRU work experience students 1
[ Zoom ]
CBRU work experience students 2
Student made poster

 Visitors had the opportunity to meet our genetics researchers and have a go at some of the interactive activities on offer including Titin in 3D, having a heart painted on their hand and taking part in the magnetic chromosome challenge.

Julia Coffey was very impressed with the work Saskia and Annie put into their placement “They asked the researchers some really excellent questions and Annie’s artistic talent and Saskia IT skills meant they put on a great display. They’re a great credit to themselves and their school should be really proud of what they achieved on their work experience in such a short time. We wish them all the best in their future careers.” 

Saskia said “we had lots of fun and learnt a lot – we had a great sense of achievement putting on the display at the end of the week.”

Annie said “I enjoyed the interviews and finding out about Titin, seeing the scanner and tour round the lab where DNA samples from patients can now be sequenced for over 100 genes in two weeks – amazing!”

September 2014

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