The Biology Olympiad of Catalonia (OBC) is a competition that seeks to recognise the efforts of 17 and 18-year-old students and to encourage their interest in biology. After the corresponding theoretical and practical tests held at the beginning of February, on Friday 24 February it was time to announce the names of the winners. But before the prize-giving ceremony, the 20 finalists were able to visit research centres where, perhaps in the future, they will develop their professional careers.
In this 13th edition of the competition, the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) has once again opened its doors to them, as it has done for more than 10 years, to show them the excellent research carried out at its centres.
PRBB research at first hand
The visit began with a presentation of the Park and a tour of the building with Mònica Rodríguez from the PRBB’s communications department. Afterwards, Tomàs Marquès-Bonet from the comparative genomics laboratory of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE: CSIC-UPF) presented the talk: “The Nobel Prize 2022. A tribute to ancient DNA”. The researcher explained the complications of obtaining DNA from fossilised bone, the findings that made Svante Pääbo worthy of the Nobel Prize in medicine, and how he himself has had the honour of working on some of these discoveries.
The Olympiad finalists then visited two of the Park’s facilities:
- The proteomics unit of the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and the Department of Medicine and Life Sciences, Pompeu Fabra University (MELIS-UPF). Eduard Sabidó, head of the service, explained how the technology works to identify protein sequences and what biomedical applications it can have.
- A workshop area for 3D printing and similar, run by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory – Barcelona (EMBL Barcelona).
It was very interesting to be able to see some of the PRBB’s facilities and learn about how they work.
Encouraging interest in biology
Behind the Biology Olympiad of Catalonia there is a team of volunteers made up of secondary school and university teachers, as well as representatives of organisations related to biology. Together, they organise this annual competition that publicly rewards interest in this subject and which, on this occasion, brought together nearly 300 students.
At the prize-giving ceremony, gold medals were awarded to Laia Oleart – who will be allowed to enrol in some university degree courses free of charge – Francisco Valverde and Laia Abio. These three, together with the three silver medal winners, will be able to take part in the Spanish Biology Olympiad (OEB) to be held at the Autonomous University of Barcelona at the end of March.
These initiatives, which seek to empower new generations in the life sciences, are also complemented by the International Biology Olympiad (where the first 4 OEB winners will participate and which, this year, will be held in the United Arab Emirates) and the Ibero-American Biology Olympiad (where the next 4 OEB winners will participate and which will be held in Madrid).
Congratulations to all of you and good luck in the next phases!