Ellenbrook Christian College students search for mutated melanoma gene at Perkins lab


The genes from three melanoma patients were examined by a group of 16 Ellenbrook Christian College students who were on the hunt for a deadly mutation.

With one in 30 Australians diagnosed each year with the potentially fatal cancer that develops in the skin’s pigment cells, the student’s research focus was highly relevant.

“At the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research we have developed a specialised teaching laboratory, the Lotterywest BioDiscovery Centre, to give students the opportunity to work with the latest technology, complete authentic experiments with DNA and working with the same scientific equipment used by researchers in the Perkins labs

“We offer students a unique opportunity to not only glimpse into the world of medical research but to work in a functional research laboratory.

“They tackle activities that are relevant to current research and we ensure their work is linked directly to the school curriculum,” said Director Professor Peter Leedman.

The Ellenbrook Christian College students set up a reaction in the laboratory that enabled them to analyse genetic material and identify the mutation using gene sequencing.

The Year 12s were led by Perkins research scientists who helped them better understand how mutations can be identified.

“It is really interesting to see the research processes actually in action with all of the equipment rather than try to learn about it on a 2D level through a textbook”, said Year 12 Biology student Montana Falloon “

Jonathan Walker a Year 12 student hoping to become a doctor said “It has been really interesting meeting all of the scientists that work here and learning about their journeys and how they went from being a school student, like me, to becoming a scientist and working in such a great institute”.

Ellenbrook Christian College’s Year 12 Biology teacher Dania Woermann said, “This is a unique and worthwhile experience for the students to be exposed to modern biotechnology techniques.”

“The program provided valuable insights from the Scientists personal journeys to covering a range of concepts from the West Australian curriculum,” she said.

Perkins Director, Professor Peter Leedman, said the BioDiscovery Centre aims to engage, educate and inspire the next generation of medical researchers. 

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