DNA-RNA-Protein -  a lab tour for deaf and hearing-impaired pupils


Dr Matt Piper             

Institute of Healthy Ageing

Dietary restriction (DR or calorie restriction) is an evolutionarily conserved intervention that extends healthy lifespan.  I am interested in the nutrients and molecular mechanisms required to elicit this effect - in particular the role of protein.  Knowledge of these interactions will aid our understanding of the role of nutrient balance in adult health, appetite and longevity.


Dr Finn Werner                              

Institute of Structural & Molecular Biology

Our research focuses on the workings of the archaeal RNAP, a superb and biochemically tractable model system for eukaryotic RNAPII.  We make use of a recombinant transcription system that allows us to introduce mutations, chemically reactive or fluorescent probes into the RNAP.  Ultimately, I am trying to explain gene expression at the atomic level.


Dr John Christodoulu                   

Institute of Structural & Molecular Biology

My research focuses on the structural study of translating ribosomes.  My research involves protein folding and misfolding, in particular, at the point of synthesis on intact ribosomes.  I also look at the structural and molecular biology of bacterial secretion systems.

The Statistics

In 2006 the Disability Rights Commission noted that only 1 in 20 disabled people were in education compared with 1 in 10 of the general population.

 Aim:  to encourage students with disabilities to apply to university

Our starting point was having  several members of staff at an academic level that are either profoundly deaf of hearing-impaired.  We want to help school pupils realise that their disability does not have to be a barrier to a higher education.

We invited a small group of pupils from Sweyne Park School and Twickenham Academy to attend a day of labs tours and talks.  The title of the day was DNA-RNA-Protein.  We wanted to explain in very simple terms this molecular level of research and the relationship between the three areas.

Talks were given by Venetia Stoby of UCL Disabilities, Dr Ray Noble of the Institute of Women's Health - who is profoundly deaf, and Abdi Gas - an ex-UCL pupil who is profoudly deaf and now runs a charity dedicated to encouraging and facilitating deaf people into the mainstream.

Our research scientists who gave the pupils a tour of their labs and explained their field of research were Dr Finn Werner of ISMB, Dr John Christodoulou of ISMB and Dr Matt Piper of the Institute of Healthy Aging.


Although this was a small event, we are hoping it will have a big impact.  We filmed the day and it will be shown here and on the main UCL Outreach website. 

This project was funded from a grant given to us by UCL Outreach