Biochemistry at Oxford University

Biochemistry at Oxford University

The Upper Five triple sciences set visited the Biochemistry Department in Oxford University last week with Mrs Peel and Mr Kynes. It was a very useful trip organised to give us an idea of whether or not to consider learning Biochemistry at university.

We arrived there at half past eleven in the morning with much excitement. We then sat down to listen to a talk introducing the department, explaining what ‘Biochemistry’ involves and the ways the courses are laid out by Dr Mark Wormald. Dr Wormald gave us useful advice including that we should choose to study a subject that we genuinely want to know more about and that, at a good university, we will learn how to think like scientists; they don’t just tell you facts but how to carry out research. After the talk, we got the chance to visit four labs in the department, guided by the students learning Biochemistry. I was very impressed with the labs especially those where crystals of proteins are grown and the lab where there is an amazing machine that can read the genome in four hours. I also enjoyed seeing the tissue culture labs where we were told about experiments involving transcription and translation.

Later, Professor Elspeth Garman addressed our party describing how she was introduced to the Biochemistry department. She outlined what her particular role was and how every section of the department is linked to find out what a protein is, how it is formed, what specific protein it is, what role it has to play in the human body and how it crystalizes.

Following on from this, Dr Matthew Higgins delivered a lecture on malaria and how the parasite works inside the body. He expanded upon which particular treatments were being developed by the department in order to try and treat and prevent millions throughout the world from dying from this awful disease.

We ended our trip by visiting the Botanic Garden inside Oxford University which was the first Botanic Garden in the UK. We saw the oldest tree growing there which was found to help treat breast cancer many years after it was first planted. There are many plants with medical uses to treat blood typing, skin complaints and heart diseases. The trip was inspiring and we all learned a great deal about how biochemistry has and will contribute to alleviating suffering from disease the world over. 

By Lydia German and Linh Nguyen (U5)