Science Festival 2019: follow the samples of the biobank!

Last weekend, IBBL (Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg) participated in the 2019 edition of the Science Festival. Through a variety of activities, this year’s workshop aimed to illustrate the main steps of the biobanking process to high school pupils, children and adults.

Organised by the National Museum of Natural History (Musée national d’histoire naturelle – Mnhn) and the National Research Fund (Fonds National de la Recherche – FNR), the Science Festival, which is now at its 12th edition, is an event taking place every two years and aiming to present and promote science and research in Luxembourg among young people and the general public. National research institutes have the opportunity to participate through educational workshops and scientific shows and present their research activities in an interactive way.

This year, the public could participate in over 50 diverse workshops. IBBL introduced a completely new workshop consisting of six hands-on activities, each of which corresponding to the different steps of the biobanking process. The first one consisted in a card game where participants had limited time to find donors who consented to their samples being collected. The activity aimed to illustrate patient recruitment and the concept of obtaining informed consent prior to sample collection. In the second activity, children and students had to identify the components of different types of sample collection kits (blood, saliva and urine) and assemble them from scratch. This represented the work done at IBBL’s Biorepository to prepare kits for delivery at various collection centres. The third activity entailed remote controlled cars and a series of obstacles to illustrate the strict conditions that apply during the transport of samples from collection centres to IBBL. The fourth activity allowed students to extract DNA from their own saliva. This represented one of the many types of sample processing carried out at IBBL’s Biorefinery department. The fifth activity let participants use pipettes to prepare aliquots of supernatant and pellet from centrifuged urine (oil and water) to understand the concept of aliquoting of liquid samples and the principle of sample traceability. Finally, students could store their samples in a box of dry ice at -80°C, which allowed them to learn more about IBBL’s core business of sample storage and long-term preservation at low temperatures.

Participating in outreach activities such as the Science Festival is an ideal opportunity for IBBL to contribute to the promotion of the work done by Luxembourg’s biomedical research institutes among the general public and to improve the general understanding of the specific role of the biobank in supporting local research.

The 2019 edition of the Science Festival took place from Thursday 7th of November until Sunday 10th at the premises of the National Museum of Natural History and at Neumünster Abbey. The first two days were entirely dedicated to pre-registered secondary school classes, while the weekend was open to the general public.