“PSI Parasite Scene Investigation – Be a Researcher for a week” was the GHTM-IHMT internship developed by Sofia Cortes (VBD-GHTM) within the scope of Ciência Viva no Laboratório 2023. From 14th and 18th august, six high school students had the opportunity to learn about vector-borne parasitic diseases, such as leishmaniases, malaria and Human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness.
After a theoretical introduction to leishmaniasis and presentation of case studies to carry out diagnosis throughout the week, and basic safety procedures to be adopted in a laboratory, the students visited the laboratories of the Leishmaniasis Group, where they carried out the preparation and microscopic observation of stained slides and Leishmania parasites in culture, as part of the direct parasitological diagnosis.
In the following days, the students performed several laboratory techniques used in the serological (detection of antibodies using direct agglutination technique) and molecular (DNA extraction, PCR and electrophoresis) diagnosis of leishmaniasis.
During this internship, the students also had the opportunity to learn about other vector-borne diseases (malaria and sleeping sickness), their parasites and vectors, through the observation of definitive preparations under a microscope, and to visit the IHMT insectary.
As a final activity, the students presented and discussed the laboratory results of the case studies, making brief group presentations. At the end, a game was played to consolidate the knowledge obtained in this internship.
Maria Catarina Almeida (former master student and fellow) and Ana Catarina Alves (VBD-GHTM and member of Malaria group) also collaborated during the internship.
For Sofia Cortes, “this Ciência Viva training was an opportunity to introduce some of the protozoan parasites studied at GHTM/IHMT and to inspire young students to the fascinating world of laboratory work and research with parasites, hoping to open doors for them to pursue a career in science”.
Learn more about the GHTM internships 2023 here:
«Ciência Viva» is the branded name of the Portuguese National Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture, meaning «Live Science».