Rochdale Sixth Form College Welcome Ebola Scientist, Dr Matthews back to his home town

Rochdale Sixth Form College’s Biology students were awestruck this month after meeting Dr David Matthews, who played a significant role in a new multi-national Ebola study and was born in Rochdale.

Dr Matthews, a former pupil of Oulder Hill Community School, delivered a fascinating lecture to the students, focussing on Virology and his work in West Africa researching the genetic evolution of the Ebola epidemic as published in the scientific journal, Nature.

In particular, the Bristol University lecturer described the techniques involved, such as taking blood samples from patients and comparing the changes in the genetic material of the virus throughout the outbreak.  Bristol University used their supercomputer, Blue Crystal, to analyse raw data on the Ebola virus in 179 patient blood samples to determine the precise genetic make-up of the virus in each case. This allowed the team to examine how the virus evolved over the Ebola outbreak, informing public health policy in key areas such as diagnostic testing, vaccine deployment and experimental treatment options.

Usman Arshad, who is studying for his Biology A-Level at Rochdale Sixth Form College said: “We were all completely blown away by Dr David Matthews.  It was such a motivational and inspirational talk and it really demonstrated the power of science.  It has certainly given me the impetus to work hard and hopefully one day I too can be involved in such a ground-breaking research project as this one.”

Assistant Principal, Surita Lawes said: “It really was a captivating lecture which had the students hooked from start to finish.  We’d like to thank Dr David Matthews for taking the time out to come back to his home town and speak to our students, and we’re very much looking forward to him returning to inspire the next cohort of budding Biologists.”