Fertility Research: Hands-On Workshop Call Out

Image Credit: Betina Mihalas

Fertility Research: Behind the Scenes

Hands-On Workshop Call Out

14:00 – 17:00, Saturday 30th October 2021


Have you ever wondered what happens with human eggs that get donated for research? And what researchers who work on fertility do on a daily basis? The University of Edinburgh’s Welcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology and ASCUS Art & Science are hosting an afternoon event where you can get some hands-on experience with common techniques used in the lab. Look down a microscope to view animal egg cells, informally meet scientists working on fertility research and get informed about research and ethics.

This event is aimed at individuals/couples who are undergoing IVF treatment, considering IVF treatment, or have gone through IVF treatment and who want to learn more about fertility research or get familiarised with laboratory methods or are just curious. Couples that include a friend or individual support network are also welcome.

What will be covered:


You will learn a very simple process on how to extract DNA from strawberries, a routine procedure used to isolate DNA from the nucleus of cells.

Under the guidance of a biologist, you will use common molecular biology techniques to manipulate DNA and analyse the results.
Under the

We will look at various oocytes (egg cells) from animal models and compare them to images of human oocytes.  
Making DNA Jewellery and Q&A
You will have the opportunity to learn more about DNA and have an informal chat with a researcher while making a DNA keyring as a take-home memento.

Note: the samples being used on the day will be from mice and frogs provided by scientists conducting scientific research into human health, with the samples used being part of ongoing research

Workshop Details:

14:00 – 17:00, Saturday 30th October 2021
ASCUS Lab and Old Lab, Summerhall
Individuals/Couples beginning or undergoing IVF treatment who want to learn more about research and laboratory methods or who are just curious
Workshop Level:
Beginners (no previous experience in art or science required)
Interested in participating? We’d love to hear from you – if you RSVP to this event in Eventbrite we will be in touch to discuss your participation and further details. Or, you can send any inquiries or questions to us via email gpieper@ed.ac.uk


About the researchers

Gerard Pieper and Bettina Mihalas are researchers in the lab of Adele Marston at the Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology at the University of Edinburgh. Adele Marston’s lab investigates the biological mechanisms behind how cells divide. Her lab’s research focusses on how cells segregate their chromosomes, which contain the DNA. Specifically, her lab tries to pry apart how “gametes”, the cells that are used for reproduction, such as oocytes (egg cells), end up with the right amount of DNA.

Gerard Pieper primarily studies frog oocytes to investigate how “kinetochores”, the microscopically small cellular machinery that helps chromosomes to be properly segregated, function when an oocyte divides.
Betina Mihalas works with human oocytes to understand why they are particularly susceptible to uneven chromosomes separation (aneuploidy). More specifically, she looks at how the ‘molecular glue’ that holds chromosomes together (the cohesin complex) is regulated during cell division.
Other Collaborators

For this afternoon of activities we will also be joined by artist Emily Fong who explores art-science collaboration as a model for engaging non-scientists in complex lab processes used in biological and medical research. With an artistic practice underpinned by observation and communication, on the day she will share her experience and approach working within lab and medical settings while capturing observations and moments across the session through sketching and drawing.

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