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What it means to study life sciences today

Kick-off meeting for the school ambassadors outreach programme of CIBSS

On Wednesday 15.6.2022, students and researchers in life sciences from the University of Freiburg gathered at the Signalhaus to get started with a special outreach programme by CIBSS: The school ambassadors programme.

Foto: CIBSS/Universität Freiburg/ Mathilde Bessert-Nettelbeck

One aim of the CIBSS outreach activities is to allow high school students to get a glimpse of what it means to become a signalling researcher. And: to get knowledge about this field of biology more widespread. “Biological Signalling research has been tremendously important for the development of technology in the past 50 years and is a major focus of the University of Freiburg. Still, it is not taught like genetics or neurobiology at school,” Prof. Dr. Wilfried Weber, who is part of the CIBSS speaker team, explains. Many high-school children do not get a lot of contact with today’s molecular biology and biochemistry methods – either because of the costs, the training of teachers or the availability of lab technology.

To get prospective students interested in the field of biology and chemistry, education master student Caroline Henschel from Wilfried Weber’s lab designed a cell free kit, that illustrates the use of CRISPR/Cas in biological research with a fluorescence tool. The future ambassadors got trained in the kit so that they could use it in their former schools back in their home towns.


That is the idea of the CIBSS program: students at university share their studying experience with pupils of their former schools and inform them about possible career paths. Additionally, the CRISPR/Cas kit allows pupils to experience today’s lab techniques hands-on at their school bench. “Everyone has heard of this gene editing tool. However, a lot of people have exaggerated or false expectations on the topic: We will not be creating designer babies any time soon, nor is this what the technology is for!” Henschel explains in her talk. She now joined up with designers of the Molecule Gossip project of CIBSS and the Biodesign lab of the HfG Karlsruhe, to create a box that makes the experimental KIT even more attractive to students and teachers.

Afterwards, Dengfeng Huang showed the participant diverse job opportunities that life science students can have, so that they can give more information to the high school students. “We learn broadly in life science before we finally specialize or focus on a subfield, but do not forget you still have a large knowledge outside your sub-field!” Dengfeng Huang explains in her talk in which she presented a variety of jobs after university for life science majors that pupils might not be aware of. 20 participants attended the event organized by Huang of CIBSS together with Weber. Hopefully, with this material and lots of information on courses at the University of Freiburg, the students will be able to get to know what it really means to major in biology or biochemistry today.

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