Foundation to send schoolchildren to Africa
Bermuda’s Youth Parliament is to hold a debate on medical research and raise funds to send Bermudian students to South Africa.
The debate, organised with the Bermuda Principles Foundation, will discuss policing medical research to safeguard patients, while cash from ticket sales will help fund the foundation’s attempt to send schoolchildren to South Africa on a research trip.
Carika Weldon, a Bermudian scientist and founder of the Bermuda Principles Foundation, said; “The science trip is in collaboration with the Mangosuthu University of Technology in Durban, South Africa.
“We have invited each high school to put forward their best science student to apply for this trip. On this trip, they will join myself and a team from MUT to run science workshops.
“The students will also be engaging in authentic research, learning the whole process from experimental design to data collection to interpretation of data and analysis.”
The research will focus on the genetics of taste and investigate if there could be a link that contributes to diabetes rates on the island.
Dr Weldon said: “This is very relevant with the imminent sugar tax soon to be debated in the House of Assembly.
“They will also collect data from their trip in Durban to compare the two regions. We hope to generate an authentic research paper that we aim to publish in an international peer-reviewed science journal.”
She added the debate will be a “must-see”.
Dr Weldon said: “Our youth parliamentarians debate with such a high quality of intelligence and conviction. Also, the topic is very interesting. It is based on the current ethical issue surrounding the commercialisation of HeLa cells in research.”
HeLa cells came from African-American Henrietta Lacks, who died of cancer in 1951.
Researchers discovered cells inside her tumour continued to grow after her death.
The cells were later mass produced and used in life-saving scientific research into diseases like polio, cancer and Aids.
But neither Mrs Lacks or her family gave consent for her cells to be used. Ms Lacks’s family only learnt about the role she played decades later.
Dr Weldon said: “The debate will be just one part of the second annual Bermuda Principles Conference on Splicing, to be held at the Fairmont Southampton from February 21 to 25.
The international conference will bring together researchers from across the globe, with a keynote lecture by Professor Adrian Krainer and presentations by keynote speakers from Britain, Italy and the US.
The Youth Parliament debate will be held at the Fairmont Southampton on February 22, starting at 7pm.
Tickets are available at ptix.bm.
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