The DNA-labs on the Road have been a well-known and popular phenomenon amongst biology and chemistry teachers in the Netherlands for fifteen years already. It is a unique project in which six universities collaborate to get advanced DNA technologies into the classroom.

Together the DNA-labs cover a broad range of subjects; health, nutrition, ethics, environment and forensic DNA research. Since 2006 the DNA-labs on the Road inspired over 250.000 secondary school students about life sciences. On top of that, the DNA-labs support teachers with trainings in specific genomics-related subjects and with a biannual teacher training day, the DNA-lab day.

Since 2017 Amgen Biotech Experience entered into a partnership with the DNA-labs on the road. She supports them with laboratory equipment and educational materials. The DNA-labs on the Road & ABE the Netherlands have now since 2019 four distribution sites of the ABE Education kit ‘Do you taste PTC?’; Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Delft and Groningen.

The idea is simple: a teacher can choose a DNA-lab, which can be booked online at www.dnalabs.nl. On the date and time of the teacher’s choice, university students take care of the rest. Beforehand, the teacher receives a teacher’s manual with the introductory lesson and the concluding lessons from that specific DNA-lab, which are taught by the teacher themselves.
Each year the DNA-labs are almost fully booked by enthusiastic teachers and the majority of them rebooks the DNA-labs every year.

1. Forensic DNA Research: Puzzling with Peaks – Amsterdam DNA-lab

Description of the lab: Students can be the forensic DNA experts themselves. At the end of the practical they will have to write an objective report for the public prosecutor about the DNA evidence in a robbery case; this report can be used in court.
Organized and owned by: Bètapartners and the University of Amsterdam
Coordinator: Iris Verhoeff
Notable: The forensic DNA-lab is offered as well at the University of Amsterdam itself. Teachers can book an unique combination. They can book the forensic DNA-lab with another science lab of Bètapartners or with a tour through Science Park or the teacher can ask to combine the forensic DNA-lab with general information about studying provided by a student officer.

2. Healthy or ill: A single wrong fold – Leiden DNA-lab
Description of the lab: Students will search for the molecular causes of some protein folding diseases like cancer, cystic fibroses and Alzheimer’s disease. The students get acquainted with techniques to trace “healthy” and “unhealthy” proteins in cells and to determine different protein structures.
Organized and owned by: Leiden University
Coordinator: Tyrza van Leeuwen

3. Bioinformatics: a Bit of Life – Nijmegen DNA-lab
Description of the lab: Identify a mystery protein using its amino acid sequence and function. And examine snake venom in a spatial model and experiment in three dimensions to find the right antidote.
Organized and owned by: Radboud Pre-University College (previous by Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences)
Coordinators: Meys Lampe and Peisi Ying-Rutten

4. Language of the Tumour – Utrecht DNA-lab
Description of the lab: Figure out which mutations are present in the tumour DNA of a breast cancer patient. Think of a personalized treatment plan for the patient, based on the mutations found.
Organized and owned by: Utrecht University and CancerGenomiCs.nl
Coordinator: Robin Bos

5. Racing on toilet paper – Delft DNA-lab
Description of the lab: Produce bio-ethanol by using yeast and toiletpaper.
Organized and owned by: Groen BiotechEducatie
Coordinator: Richard Groen

6. Prenatal research in plants – Wageningen DNA-lab
Description of the lab: Dive into the genetics of the potato plant and use PCR to search for genes with certain properties, such as resistance to diseases and pests.
Organized and owned by: Wageningen University & Research
Coordinator: Lisa Nieuwboer

7. Gen-Ethics – Utrecht DNA-lab
Description of the lab: New lab, whereby students of Biomedical Sciences will start a dialogue with secondary school students about social issues surrounding DNA-focused research.
Organized and owned by: Utrecht University
Coordinator: Robin Bos

8. Bioinformatics: CRISPR/Cas9 – Nijmegen DNA-lab
Description of the lab: Create an animal model for Usher syndrome in the zebrafish using a databank with genomic data and a tool to design guide RNAs.
Organized and owned by: Radboud Pre-University College
Coordinators: Meys Lampe and Peisi Ying-Rutten