Trying out life as oncology researchers

Six biology students from Ullern High School were selected to intern at the Department of Tumor Biology at Oslo University Hospital in week 50. This is the fourth time the department has had students from Ullern interning, says researcher Birgit Engesæter. Together with her research colleague Siri Tveito, she is in charge of the students – learning them the tricks and trades of working in an oncology lab.

The day Oslo Cancer Cluster drops by the students are busy looking at melanoma cells: they are measuring the protein levels in cell lysate to later see whether a treatment has been effective or not in inhibiting the growth of the skin cancer cells.

“This is very close to what we do in our daily life here at the department, so the students get a pretty good idea on how it is to be an oncology researcher. The treatment the students are studying today for instance was available on the market only short time ago,” says Engesæter.


Highly motivated and very grateful
Thea, Sofie, Marte, Helge, Ildri and Gabriella have divided into three groups and are all highly concentrated on the protocol, checking out with Engesæter occasionally whether they are doing the right thing. All of them have biology, chemistry and mathematics at school, but they have not had so much lab work in biology – a bit more in chemistry.

“The first day they struggle a bit with the equipment, but then they get the feeling with it. In the end of the week they are more or less experts with the pipettes.” says Engesæter.

The six students are highly motivated for their week as oncology researchers, as they have been selected after an internal application round among all the biology students at Ullern. Some of them were even interning at the Norwegian Institute for Public Health and at the Department of Medical Physics, Oslo University Hospital earlier in 2013. Read an article on this here.

“We are so lucky to get this chance to actually come here to the hospital and learn from real researchers and work in the lab. We are very grateful,” say several of the students impulsively, more than once.

But they are not so sure they actually would like to become researchers, due to the tough working conditions. When we ask them what they would like to study, they mention medical school and engineering studies where they earn a profession.

But first they have some days left at the department, learning even more oncology research and presenting a small talk on what they have learnt this week.


Educational agreement
The students are interning at the Department of Tumor Biology due to the educational agreement between Oslo Cancer Cluster and Ullern High School. The educational agreement brings into life the common vision Oslo Cancer Cluster an Ullern High School share of educating the researchers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

In 2015 Ullern High School with 900 students will be integrated in the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park currently under construction next to the Norwegian Radium Hospital at Montebello in Oslo.


Upcoming activities  in 2014 –
educational agreement between Oslo Cancer Cluster and Ullern High School:


Competence development course for the teachers at Ullern High School as well as other schools in Oslo on nutrition with Kaare Norum, former principal of University of Oslo and one of the Oslo Cancer Clusters initiators.


3rd – 5th:
Six chemistry students interning at the Department of Radiation Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital.

10th – 11th:
Gründer Camp -a collaborative project between Novartis, Junior Achievement Young Enterprise, Norway – as well as Oslo Cancer Cluster and Ullern High School, involving 60 biology students. Taking place at the Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital.

10th – 14th:
Six media students interning at Oslo Cancer Cluster, will document the Gründer Camp.

10th – 14th
Six physics students interning at the Department of Medical Physics, Oslo University Hospital.

March – April

Educational Day in Entrepreneurship for approximately 180 students.


1st – 4th:
6 biology students interning at the Division of Infectious Disease Control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

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