What would motivate anyone to wake up early on a lazy springtime weekend morning, get dressed, and head to town? Research, of course! Fifty would-be scientists made their way to the Caixa Catalunya Cultural Centre in the "Pedrera" building in Barcelona on Saturday, March 3 for a day filled with science and fun. The occasion was Fes Recerca!, a series of hands-on science workshops aimed at the general public. The events, organized by the Parc Cientific de Barcelona over four weekends in February and March, provide an opportunity for amateur science buffs to experience what it is like to do research and learn about science projects that are currently being carried out at the Park.
IRB Barcelona PhD students Elisabeth Castellanos and Ana Janic, from Cayetano Gonzalez’s lab, presented their latest research projects on cancer in the fruit fly, Drosophila. Participants heard about the mechanisms that Drosophila cells normally use to divide, and learned what happens when these mechanisms fail, causing cells to divide out of control ultimately producing cancer.
Once the theoretical lesson was over, participants put on lab coats, rolled up their sleeves and got down to some good old science. They sorted normal and mutant fly larvae, examined them under the microscope, and dissected the specimens to isolate the larval brains. In just a short time, these new researchers had succesfully mastered basic research techniques.
"It’s great that activities like this are organized. They really bring today’s research right to the public," affirms a 41-year-old clerk who participated in the event. "We enjoyed doing the experiments, and the scientists did a great job of explaining their research. It couldn’t have been easier to understand!"
"The success of this event shows that there is considerable interest and curiosity about science among the public" says Rosina Malagrida, Head of Communications at the PCB and organizer of the event. "What we need to do is create the opportunity for these two worlds to meet. Organizing such an event in La Pedrera, a famous building in the heart of Barcelona, is a wonderful idea. If the public can’t always come to the scientists, then the scientists must go to the public."
About IRB Barcelona
Created in 2005 by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia) and University of Barcelona, IRB Barcelona is a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence, a seal that was awarded in 2011. The institute is devoted to conducting research of excellence in biomedicine and to transferring results to clinical practice, thus improving people’s quality of life, while simultaneously promoting the training of outstanding researchers, technology transfer, and public communication of science. Its 28 laboratories and eight core facilities address basic questions in biology and are orientated to diseases such as cancer, metastasis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and rare conditions. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 employees and more than 30 nationalities. It is located in the Barcelona Science Park. IRB Barcelona is a CERCA center, and a member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).