“My name is Rebecca Ward, a PhD student at UCD. My research focuses on understanding the biological mechanisms behind genetic forms of sight loss. Led by Prof Breandán Kennedy, this work is kindly funded by Fighting Blindness and the Irish Research Council. I am extremely passionate about communicating science in a way that allows all age groups to understand and appreciate the potential of research. This July, I played a key role in organising a summer camp to educate and inspire young secondary school students on rare, inherited forms of sight loss.
During the week, an eager group of teenagers were introduced to genetics and learned about the different areas of research being explored to develop potential therapeutics. The students embraced their white lab coats and took part in a hands-on experience performing vision-related laboratory experiments. A highlight for the students was an engaging talk from Orla Comerford, Paralympian and Fighting Blindness ambassador. Congratulations to Orla who won two bronze medals in the recent European championships.
The success of this summer school was apparent in the encouraging feedback received from students, all agreeing that they had learned a lot about inherited disease. Events like this are instrumental in raising the public profile of rare, inherited forms of sight loss but also in encouraging the next generation of bright young minds to consider a career in vision research. I look forward to repeating this unique experience again next summer.”