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Year 12 students complete CABI work experience

In May, three of our Year 12 students, Isadora, Sarah and Raymond, had the fantastic opportunity to complete work experience at CABI, shadowing the work of one of Preston Manor’s ex-students, Dr Charith Perera, PhD, who works there as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Charith’s work focusses on developing new MRI techniques to study the function of the brain and cerebrospinal fluid.

During the work experience, the students learnt about how Charith conducts his research, which area of the brain he is working on and what the experimental MRI scanner at CABI can reveal, with a much higher magnetic field compared to a typical clinical scanner. The students also looked at micro-CT scans of insects and rodents, which Sarah commented was "one of the most mesmerising images I saw." Finally, having learnt the whole process of MRI scanning, they were invited to try it out for themselves and imaged fruits and vegetables that they had brought in, which, they said, was an exciting way of learning, and they loved the way their images turned out! Raymond especially enjoyed learning about the scanner: "It intrigued me to see how one piece of software was able to command a machine to scan any organism’s structural or organic features" he commented.

The students were also able to see how pre-clinical research is planned, how rodent models are used and how the data from experiments is collated and analysed. They had the chance to talk to a wide range of scientists, have a preview of what a CABI scientist was planning for the Cheltenham Science Festival in June (Science | Cheltenham Festivals) and attend a full team meeting where they discussed and reviewed another lab's newly published research.

Raymond took a particular interest in the different pathways that people took to become a research specialist: "This experience helped fill the massive gap I had regarding PhDs, especially in medical research, and it’s given me insight into the various pathways after Sixth Form"
Sarah was impressed by the social dynamic at CABI: "I thought working in a lab would be a lot more isolating" she remarked "which held me back from pursuing a career in research, but Charith told me the director encourages being social and it is something that he looks for when employing. This made me want to work in CABI and labs like CABI perhaps in the future.

Isadora  commented on how "every member of the lab was eager to expand on the topics brought up and keen to make sure we understood everything. …..I also liked the raw knowledge that we received each day, which made the next day always easier to follow along with technical terminology and concepts."

The students all appreciated the efforts behind the scenes to make this opportunity available to them and would like to thank Charith and his colleagues for organising and hosting a fascinating experience which they’ll never forget!

CABI is UCL's Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging, one of the most advanced biomedical imaging facilities in the world.  Imaging has contributed to some of the most significant advances in biomedicine and healthcare and at CABI, researchers use state-of-the-art imaging equipment to devise methods to advance early diagnosis and interventions.

To read more about their work, visit: