First online meeting 27.01. – 29.01. 2021

Report about first online Meeting 27.01. – 29.01.2021

Caused by SARS-Cov-2 the dated physical meeting in Vicenza from 26.01. – 30.01.2021 was again not possible. But we kept the date and changed mode to a virtual meeting which took place from 27.01. – 29.01.2021.

With more than ninety participants we worked out a teaching module about the new research topic in genetic called epigenetic which is coming up in the curricula of high schools all over Europe. This teaching module is focused on epigenetic regulation of gene activity by methylation and demethylation. Scientists figured out that modifications of DNA e.g. methylation of CpG-islands could mute genes, demethylation activates genes. If tumor suppressor genes are muted cancer could occur. First drugs to cure cancer on epigenetic level to treat leukaemia are on the market.

In an international team of student mentors from Pforzheim and Vienna together with their teachers we prepared in advance presentations for background information and presented it to the audit during the meeting.

In science lessons hands on teaching is an imperative. As a conclusion we developed for the teaching module an experiment on epigenetic gene regulation by methylation.

1. Step of experiment: Unmethylated DNA of a phage is methylated by CpG methylase.

2. Step: Unmethylated DNA of the phage as a control and methylated DNA out of the 1. step are treated with restriction enzyme ClaI. This enzyme is sensitive to CpG methylation which means methylated DNA couldn’t be cleaved.

3. Step: Separation of restriction fragments by gel-electrophoresis

As results of the meeting we prepared a teacher and student protocol in the working language of English we want to evaluate in a future lab workshop which will takes place if SARS-Cov-2 allows us to work in a lab again. Protocols were translated by national teams into their respective mother tongues.

Cultural aspects were integrated as well with presentations via a self made video produced by students from Brno. They introduced us their hometown, their high school and the founder of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel, who lived and explored his famous rules in the monastery of Brno. Other students from Vicenza presented their hometown, their school and its surroundings in a video.