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Diamond Light Source Ltd and MRC Harwell Institute are the University's partners where Oxford students can undertake some of the most cutting edge medical research. A day long introductory visit to both facilities promotes partners' specific work and highlights potential interactions and training opportunities that may be of use to the student’s research. Becoming familiar with the breadth of carried out research has potential to also inspire future project ideas.

The first Oxford-MRC DTP visit to Diamond Light Source Ltd and MRC Harwell Institute took place on Tuesday 20th March 2018.

 

On arrival to Diamond House students were welcomed with refreshments and given three presentations from Diamond Light Source Ltd staff:

  • Snapshot of life sciences at Diamond
  • Macromolecular crystallography at Diamond
  • Electron microscopy/X-ray imaging at Diamond

After a coffee break, they were then divided into groups and given tours around:

- eBIC (the Electron Bio-Imaging Centre): eBIC provides scientists with state-of-the-art experimental equipment and expertise in the field of cryo-electron microscopy for both single particle analysis and cryo-tomography. Currently eBIC houses four Titan Krios microscopes, a Talos Arctica and a Scios cryo-FIB/SEM.

- beamline B21 - a dedicated solution-state Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) beamline that utilises a bending magnet source and can accommodate a wide variety of aqueous-based and some limited organic solvent-based samples.

- beamline I24 - a tuneable microfocus beamline for macromolecular crystallography that offers extremely high flux densities with the ability to investigate virus structure, membrane proteins, and microcrystals.

- beamline B24 - the cryo-soft X-ray tomography beamline designed specifically to meet the rising demand for tomographic imaging of biological specimens under near physiological conditions, bridging the resolution gap that exists between electron microscopy and conventional light microscopy.

 

The tours were followed by a sandwich lunch after which students visited the MRC Harwell Institute.

They were given a brief orientation about the research of the Mammalian Genetics Unit and the MRC Harwell Institute mission to advance medicine and knowledge through the discovery and investigation of mouse models of human disease.

The students then toured the Mary Lyon Centre, a state-of-the-art specified pathogen free (SPF) mouse facility, and were able to see and understand the operation of the centre and its associated phenotyping facilities.

2017 Mary Lyon Centre tour

 Two short presentations followed the tour:

- on the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC) and the resources available to researchers in the form of data and mouse models; and 

- on approaches for generating specific genetic alterations in mice using CRISPR technologies with the aim of investigating the function of particular genes, regulatory sequences and sequence differences.

 

The students commented about the day:

'Absolutely amazing trip! Both the Diamond and MRC Harwell are very impressive places to visit. ... The tours were definitely the highlight.'

'The Mary Lyon Centre tour was fascinating! It's made me want to attend the short course on mouse genetics which is a field very different from my own.'

'Definitely worth going!'