Teaching parasite culture through e-learning incorporating digitised 2D and 3D parasite images.


The teaching of medical parasitology is facing important challenges including the need to reverse the current downward trend in the teaching status of this science reported in developed countries, despite increasing food and water parasitic outbreaks in these countries. Moreover, the teaching of this science should be adapted to the rapidly increasing biomedical and technological achievements in our societies, so we can meet future students’ interests and expectations as well as being able to supply future work placement needs. Thus, parasitologists from different European Universities [De Montfort University, DMU, UK; and the Spanish University of San Pablo CEU (USP-CEU) and Miguel Hernández de Elche], are developing a complete on-line package for teaching and learning medical parasitology, named DMU e-Parasitology (http://parasitology.dmu.ac.uk). This novel package includes a virtual laboratory and microscope with a complete library of digitised 2D slides of parasites in clinical samples. Recently, we have been successful in using 3D super-resolution microscopy (3D Cell Explorer; Nanolive), to incorporate 3D microscopic images (multiple-viewpoint-holographic images, 96 z-stacks) of important protozoan (e.g. http://parasitology.dmu.ac.uk /learn/3D_Parasitology/Acanthamoeba_cyst_1.htm) and fungi human parasites fixed on slides, of. In contrast to images created from pre-stained clinical samples, in which structures of the parasites were indistinguishable from the background, although insight of the morphological structure of the infective forms of the parasites could be seen in the 3D z-stack images in each fixed culture samples provided. However, we believe that such images will have little applicability as a potential diagnostic tool, requiring further development. We have also created an e-learning unit on parasite cell culture (http://parasitology.dmu.ac.uk /learn/lab/parasite_cell_cultures/story_flash.html), which show all the practices and procedures to work in a parasite culture unit in conjunction with detailed information and videos of parasitologists/technicians working in real conditions with parasite cultures. In order to validate this unit, we will use a blended learning approach with final year BSc Biomedical Science students and MSc Advanced Biomedical Science at DMU that voluntarily enrol to receive formative training in these topics. This training consists of two sessions, which will be delivered in the first week of April 2019, when these volunteer students have completed the DMU e-Parasitology’s Parasite Cell Unit. The first session, mostly theoretical, will provide an overall description of how to work in a parasite culture unit in conjunction with explanatory mini-videos, in which students will be able to observe different parasites in culture conditions and specific 2D (clinical samples) and 3D (fixed culture samples) slides. Thus, students will be able to observe the morphological structures of the infectious forms of these pathogens in three formats: as culture (live and fixed) and in a human tissue sample. In the second session students will use a class II biological safety cabinet to manage human cells and perform routinely tasks such as grow, culture and count these cells. This paper will provide an overall description of these novel resources for teaching/learning parasite culture and their effectiveness for teaching these important laboratory skills to future healthcare professionals.



DMU e-Parasitology, 3D microscope, Virtual slides, Parasite culture.


Peña-Fernandez, A., Llorens, S., Hurtado, C., Izquierdo, F., Pozuelo, M.J., Fenoy, S., Young, C., Evans, M.D., Ollero, M.D., del Aguila, C., Magnet, A. Teaching parasite culture through e-learning incorporating digitised 2D and 3D parasite images. EDULEARN19 Proceedings, pp. 6892-6896.


Research Institute

Leicester Institute for Pharmaceutical Innovation - From Molecules to Practice (LIPI)