December 5, 2023

Science Outreach: A practical course for high school classes

Our Special Research Program, in collaboration with the Vienna Open Lab, has developed a lab course for high school pupils on the topic of targeted protein degradation. After a first round of six courses held in spring 2023 with over 80 participants, the Vienna Open Lab dedicated a “special event week” to offer their entire capacity from 28 November to 1 December 2023 for holding our course  “Trash or Treasure? Protein Recylcing in the cell” (held in German “Alles Müll? Proteinrecycling in der Zelle”). Due to overwhelming demand, further rounds of courses are planned for November 2024.

This course is designed by SFB researchers Dr. Nikola Winter and Prof. Andreas Bachmair in the frame of science outreach activities of the SFB. Together with the Vienna Open Lab, they have worked out experimental procedures feasible to be carried out by groups of high school pupils, using engineered yeast strains and transgenic Arabidopsis plants, to demonstrate genetic and chemical factors influencing targeted protein degradation, in the frame of a 4.5-hour workshop.


Pupils get acquainted with the importance of protein degradation and why it is a current focus of research. After learning basic theoretical backgrounds and getting introduced to the signals required for cellular protein degradation, they conduct the experiments themselves: By performing reporter assays in Arabidopsis seedlings and in yeast, they analyze the effects of different N-terminal amino acids, mutations in a certain E3 ligase and application of a certain drug on protein degradation.


As the experiments are designed by active researchers and are based on their actual work, participating pupils have the unique opportunity to delve into current research activities and learn about the importance of basic research.


Special thanks go to our SFB researchers Dr. Nikola Winter and Prof. Andreas Bachmair from the Max Perutz Labs for designing the course, providing materials and expertise , and to the Vienna Open Lab for the excellent collaboration implementing the course. We are happy to announce further courses planned for November 2024. Further information for interested school classes will be announced by the Vienna Open Lab.


Read the article by the Vienna Open Lab (in German) about this course.


Read more about the work of the Bachmair group in our Special Research Program and at the Max Perutz Labs.

Pupils performing experiments in our the course "Alles Müll? Protein Recycling in the Zelle". All photos ©Vienna Open Lab