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66 youngsters from around the world start the BIYSC programme in research centres around Catalonia



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The Barcelona International Youth Science Challenge (BIYSC) is a singular programme run by the Catalunya-La Pedrera Foundation that seeks to bring together students with a passion for science and the best scientists in prestigious research centres in Catalonia.

IRB Barcelona participates in the BIYSC through the project “From DNA to protein related diseases”, which includes sessions about the different fields addressed at the institute.

Sixty-six youngsters (aged between 16 and 19) from around the world with a passion for science are spending July in research centres around Catalonia as part of the new programme called Barcelona International Youth Science Challenge (BIYSC), run by the Catalunya-La Pedrera Foundation. Unparalleled in Spain, this programme seeks to bring together youngsters with a passion for science and researchers in prestigious centres in Catalonia. IRB Barcelona is participating in this initiative through the project “From DNA to protein related diseases”, which includes classes on laboratory techniques used in biochemistry, structural biology, experimental data base analysis, and the computational design of drugs.

In the first week, participants attended conferences and debates with scientists at Món Sant Benet in Sant Fruitós del Bages. Last Wednesday, the scientist Modesto Orozco, leader of the Molecular Modeling and Bioinformatics group at IRB Barcelona, gave a talk about DNA and its capacity to store information and about the debates on “Big data”. After dinner, the PhD students Manuel Cañete and Sanja Zivanovic, two of the people responsible for the workshops being given at IRB Barcelona, explained what they are working on and answered the student’s questions.

“I think that the opportunity to meet and talk to scientists is crucial at their age. In the classroom, they learn in a traditional way, using books, but here they learn real science. I am pleased that IRB Barcelona is involved in this kind of initiative,” explains Sanja Zivanovic, from Orozco’s lab. “It has been a challenge adapting our science to the participants’ ages, but they are highly motivated and prepared young people. I feel good working with them and knowing that I am giving them something that few people of their age have.”

During their time at IRB Barcelona, the young people will participate in protein expression and crystallization workshops and learn to analyse and visualize these proteins in 3D. Finally, they will learn about designing drugs that efficiently bind to these molecules. In a closing act held in the building “La Pedrera”, this Friday, after 11 days of work, the participants will present the projects in which they have been involved.

BIYSC is yet another activity in the list of programmes that seek to stimulate scientific vocation done in collaboration between the Catalunya–La Pedrera Foundation and IRB Barcelona. Other projects include the Tandem Schools and Crazy about Biomedicine, which aim to foster scientific spirit among youngsters and encourage academic effort and excellence.

About IRB Barcelona

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) pursues a society free of disease. To this end, it conducts multidisciplinary research of excellence to cure cancer and other diseases linked to ageing. It establishes technology transfer agreements with the pharmaceutical industry and major hospitals to bring research results closer to society, and organises a range of science outreach activities to engage the public in an open dialogue. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 researchers and more than 30 nationalities. Recognised as a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence since 2011, IRB Barcelona is a CERCA centre and member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).