Last March 18th BioISI joined the Brain Awareness Week and hosted a visit from high-school students from Colégio de Santa Doroteia, in Lisbon. In this activity, students had the opportunity to attend two lectures and two workshops in the field of brain research.

The initiative included activities prepared by different scientists from Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa (FCUL): Diana Cunha-Reis (BioISI researcher), Gonçalo Cosme (IBEB PhD Student), José Carlos Dionísio (professor at the Animal Biology Department) and Paula Boler Cláudio (professor at Informatics Department) and the support of Marta Bento (BSc. in Biochemistry student, from the Chemical and Biochemical Department). Due to this scientific diversity, students were able to know more about brain research since the lectures and workshops covered several topics, ranging from the experimental approaches used in the study of epilepsy, neuropsychiatric diseases, the evaluation of sensory perception and the treatments for neurologic-based diseases such as anxiety caused by heights or public exposure.

After the restrictions due COVID-19 pandemics we have been living, students highlight the importance of this kind of visits, as suggested by Margarida Almeida: “I am really enjoying this activity because there has been very few of these in the last years due to COVID-19. It is important for us – who attend the Biology subject at school – to know the practical aspects of Science and not only the theory. The microscopes, all the equipment that can help us discover more about the brain… it is very important for us to discover. It brings us closer to Science!”.

The hands-on approach used was very appreciated by the students, not only to learn new things, but also to consolidate the scientific subjects from school curriculum. Matilde Tavares, also a Biology student, shares that: “ I really liked the laboratorial part – in particular the one about the use of rats in epilepsy study – because we could see how some concepts we learned in school can be applied. It seems like everything seems more realistic when we do it.”

Diana Cunha-Reis, from Gene Expression and Regulation (GER) Research Group, shares her fulfillment towards these actions: “Promoting activities within Brain Awareness Week is always something that I really enjoy doing because I can have direct contact with the young people and share with them in the lab some of the scientific questions we are addressing”.

Diana Cunha-Reis, the organizer researcher, is very pleased with this particular event. According to her: “Students seemed to be very happy because they participated actively by asking many questions. This will surely contribute to FCUL to be their future college choice.” In fact, students seem to feel the same way, as it is testified by Matilde Tavares: “I always knew I wanted to follow a course related with Biology. Thanks to this contact with different professors and students, I feel even more motivated to search for more information about the faculty so I can make a conscious choice in the future.

Find out more about Diana Cunha-Reis and her current research here.

Know more about BioISI GER Group here.

Photo Credits: ACI Ciências.ULisboa