Scientists of Tomorrow to Debate Biomedical Issues of Today

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The 2010 Debating Science Issues (DSI) All- Ireland Finals will be held Thursday, 15 April, at the Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin. The Finals, co-ordinated by the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, will see four teams of secondary school students representing the provinces of Connaught, Ulster, Leinster and Munster. The schools in the Final are St. Attracta's Community School, Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, Our Lady and St. Patrick's College, South Belfast, St. Mary's College, Rathmines, Co. Dublin, and Clonakilty Community School, Co. Cork. St. Attracta's Community School successfully competed in three provincial rounds to reach the final. The school's speakers, John Kelly and Erin Fahey, were aided in their research by the rest of their Transition Year class and coached by science teacher, Ciara O'Shea. Ciara was a Secondary Teacher Assistant Researcher (STAR) teacher at REMEDI. The STARs initiative of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) gives secondary teachers the opportunity to conduct research with an SFI funded research team. The Connacht runners-up were from Scoil Mhuire in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon. Fifty-six schools were involved the 2010 DSI competition, which encourages young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. Competition organiser and Outreach Officer at REMEDI, Danielle Nicholson, remarked: "The initial DSI workshops provided an open and impartial environment and challenged the students to think deeply about the ethical impact of biomedical research. This debate series reflects the interest and insight among 15-18 year olds in the field of biomedicine". This schools' biomedical science debate competition, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust for three consecutive years, was initiated by NUI Galway's REMEDI based on the success of local debates centring on stem cell research. As research, medical and science centres in Ireland research a wide range of topical sciences with associated ethical considerations, the DSI competition is the ideal way to educate young people on what is happening in their local university laboratories. Aside from stem cells, other topics debated include nanotechnology, genetically-modified (GM) foods, vaccinations, and health and self-testing kits. Other collaborators for the competition include the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI), CLARITY, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Tyndall National Institute, the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, W5 and Queen's University Belfast. Provincial trophies and prizes are sponsored by the College of Science at NUI Galway and Boston Scientific. The REMEDI is a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and industry funded research centre located at NUI Galway. Scientists and doctors at REMEDI are working together to combine the technologies of gene therapy and adult stem cell therapy to repair and replace damaged tissue. REMEDI research teams are looking at heart disease, arthritis, and neurological diseases, to research and develop medical therapies that enable repair of damaged and diseased tissue using living cells and genes. For further information on the Debating Science Issues competition visit www.remedi.ie.
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