Posts Tagged ‘DNA’

Lab Resources from ATE

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Did you know that some Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Projects and Programs offer a lot of resources for teaching Biotechnology and Lab skills? From free instructional materials and curriculum to career profiles and advice for connecting with employers, ATE programs like Bio-Link are invaluable to students, instructors and employers alike and a good place to start your research on launching a career in this field.

Here is just a sampling of what we found from the clearing house and Bio-Link as it relates to molecular biology and DNA research in particular:

Step-by- Step Tutorials for Selected Lab Activities
This is a collection of html and PowerPoint slides that break down selected lab activities and DNA research for instruction at Iowa State University.

Teaching Unit 6: Basics of Molecular Cloning (Blue/White Selection)

This is a free unit that “describes the methods and development of molecular cloning and blue/white selection. The laboratory is a math-intensive protocol that takes students from excising a gene fragment through subcloning, transformation, and gene expression.”

Career videos from the National Human Genome Research Institute
This site offers many videos profiling many different careers available to students studying DNA research. Interested in a career in forensics for example? Want to know what that looks like first-hand? Well, this site is the place to go! Here, students can meet Dr. Lois Tully, a forensic scientist with the U.S. Department of Justice and associate of the Human Identity Project with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Teach.Genetics from the University of Utah

On this site you will find “a wealth of resources and information aimed at helping educators bring genetics, bioscience and health alive in the classroom.” In addition Teach.Genetics offers “tools and resources to support your curriculum, all free of charge.” An example of one lesson that you can access is a color-by-number comparison of PET scan images showing activity in a drug-free brain and the brain of a former cocaine addict.

There are many resources to answer all questions and address each need. They cover a variety of demographics and age ranges. There is for example, a high school lesson from the Biotechnology Education and Training Sequence Investment (BETSI) at Southwestern College on the amplification of Mitochondria DNA.

Sometimes the most difficult thing about walking down a career path is being confident with each step when you do not know what lies ahead. For those making this journey and the people supporting them, what makes a difference and helps to better navigate the twists and turns is the information that is available to them. The professionals in charge of each ATE program and project know this and have worked to compile all the high-quality, available resources that exist within their fields and industries. Perhaps Biotechnology is not your area of interest, but Agriculture or Information Technology is instead? Well, check out for information on other advanced technologies.

Discovering What is Possible in the Lab

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Over the course of this week and next, ATETV will be looking more closely at the field of Biotechnology and its work in the lab by answering questions like, “What does a college class look like in this field?” and “What are the jobs like?” According to the Biotechnology Institute, Biotechnology is “the use of living organisms by humans” Biotechnologists look at organisms, their biochemistry, and their genes in order to create commercial products. The demand for this work is large and according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics “… projected to grow 21 percent over the 2008—18 decade, much faster than the average for all occupations, as biotechnological research and development continues to drive job growth.”

One alluring aspect of a career as a Biotechnologist and more specifically, life in the lab, is the potential to be a part of an exciting discovery! In the future, Biotechnology could produce organisms that would generate enough energy to reduce the need for electricity, medicines to cure diseases like cancer and genetically engineered food to sustain us. Here are some of the great discoveries we found reported:

1) DNA- DNA is perhaps one of the most fundamental discoveries to further the science of Biology. It is the blueprint of biological life from its inception to its growth and till death. It is what supplies the necessary information to cells to get them to reproduce. There are many different ideas about who should get credit for finding this and regarding the circumstances of its discovery. But one thing is for sure, its discovery has not only revolutionized science and medicine but it has affected all walks of life; whether they are medical, social, legal, criminal or related to genetics and inheritance.

2) According to, scientists at Harvard recently discovered a way to genetically engineer an organism to sense magnetic fields. This could be invaluable for the fields of medicine and research. One example of what could be made possible from this includes targeted therapies for diseases like cancer. By delivering magnetism to certain cell types, like cancer cells, researchers could track the cells in the body using MRI, thus making treatments more effective.

3) Imagine the possibilities if bacteria could be used to boost fuel cell power? Also according to, researchers at Newcastle University in the U.K discovered a species of a bacteria that lives in an environment similar to that which exists about 18 miles above the earth’s surface. According to this article, this “bacteria generate current as they eat, by releasing electrons during chemical reactions.” This led scientists to test them for power generation and the results proved positive. While this method doesn’t generate a lot of power, it does produce enough to light a light bulb and presents interesting possibilities for the future of renewable energy!

4) Cloning. According to Wikipedia, “Cloning in Biology is the process of producing similar populations of genetically identical individuals that occurs in nature when organisms such as bacteria, insects or plants reproduce asexually. Cloning in Biotechnology refers to processes used to create copies of DNA fragments (molecular cloning), cells (cell cloning), or organisms.” In 1997 researchers in Scotland achieved the first successful clone of a mammal from an adult cell; a sheep named Dolly. Since that time, other reported successful attempts at cloning include another sheep named Polly, a cat in 2001 at Texas A&M University, cattle, a deer and two goats- just to name a few.

5) What if you could train your immune system to fight cancer? This is a question that researchers have been exploring and doctors have recently begun to apply to treatments. In this article in the New York Times, William Ludwig was successfully treated for Leukemia using a protocol developed from the results of these studies. Doctors “removed a billion of his T-cells — a type of white blood cell that fights viruses and tumors— and gave them new genes that would program the cells to attack his cancer. Then the altered cells were dripped back into Mr. Ludwig’s veins.” Genetically altering T-cells is a concept that was first developed in the 1980s by Dr. Zelig Eshhar at the Weizmann Institute for Science in Rehovot, Israel.

Published Biotechnology timelines like this one, further reveal that there have been many more discoveries made that are of critical importance to solving the problems we face today. It is an exciting field to be a part of not only because the possibilities are endless but also because the work is loaded with the potential to make significant impacts on our future and as a result in demand. When you break down any living organism to its smallest elements of a cell, or a DNA composition and begin to experiment with that, anything is truly possible.

DNA Advances Mean Biotech Advances

Sunday, March 13th, 2011


It’s hard to believe but it was only 10 years ago last month that leading scientific journals published the results of the Human Genome Sequence, the encyclopedia of our genetic content.

(Backing up for a minute, genes — which number 30,000-plus — are made up of DNA, and DNA is the hereditary material that determines an organism’s distinct characteristics. Meanwhile, a genome sequence is the order of DNA bases in a genome — it’s something like a very long string of letters in a mysterious language.)

As this vast amount of new genetic information has become available, the field of medical Biotechnology — which we looked at in this week’s ATETV Episode — has kept pace. Here are some of the many ways that Biotech is using this new information:

Personalized medicine. Currently, the practice of medicine is based on standards of care that are determined by gathering information across large groups of people. Personalized medicine is a new concept that proposes to manage a patient’s disease based on the individual’s specific characteristics, including age, gender, height, weight, environment and genetics. Genetic advances is beginning to allow the development of genomic personalized medicine — medical care based on a patient’s genotype or gene profile.

Meanwhile, a specialty known as Pharmacogenomics takes advantage of the fact that individuals have unique genomes and works to identify specific drugs and doses to work optimally for each person. By understanding a person’s genetic makeup, a physician can better prescribe drugs and doses. Both Pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine rely on advances in DNA technology

Genetic testing. The Biotech industry continues to develop improved genetic tests, and the discovery of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was key. When a SNP occurs in a gene sequence that encodes for a specific protein, it might change that protein and cause disease or increase a person’s susceptablity to disease, making genetic tests more accurate.

Check out Bio-Link for more background on the Biotech field, and the medical career opportunities offered in this rapidly growing area!

Building A Biotech Career, One DNA Strand At a Time

Thursday, June 10th, 2010
DNA Strand from the U.S. Library of Medicine

DNA Strand from the U.S. Library of Medicine

DNA is the basic building block of life, and these days, it’s also the building block for many a job in the Biotechnology industry. Ever since the launch of the Human Genome project (the massive effort to identify all human genes) in 2003, the fields of Biotechnology and life sciences have been booming, with a broad spectrum of career opportunities waiting to be filled by skilled technicians, as we heard in this week’s episode.

Today, the foundation for these important jobs is laid in high school, with the National Science Education Standards emphasizing a curriculum that includes a working knowledge of the life sciences — including the structure and function of DNA.

But, what exactly, is DNA? It stands for deoxyribonucleic acid and in the simplest of terms, it is the hereditary material in most all living creatures, including humans and is found in every cell in the body. Because DNA is a “double helix,” it has the unique ability to replicate, or make copies of itself; consequently when our cells divide, each new cell is able to have an exact copy of the DNA present in the old cell. For that reason, TV crime shows often refer to DNA as a “genetic fingerprint.”

Check out the Genetics Science Learning Center at the University of Utah for activities and information that teach the nuts and bolts of DNA and genetics, including a primer on heredity and an overview of cells.

How does this translate to jobs? According to the U.S. Human Genome Management Information System, DNA and genomics offer almost limitless career opportunities. For example, genetic data is leading to new applications in medicine including everything from genetic counseling to vaccine development and pharmaceutical careers. To learn how to prepare for a career in the biosciences and Biotechnology field, along with a guide to specific career areas, visit here.

You can also find job descriptions of a wide variety of Biotech careers including laboratory technicians, metrology specialists and software development analysts (to name just a few) at BioLink- The National Advanced Technology Education Center focused on Biotechnology.

And if you need just more inspiration, consider this excerpt from a speech made by President Barack Obama last November as he described the future of the U.S. economy: “I’m committed to moving our country from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math education over the next decade…This is probably going to make more of a difference in determining how well we do as a country than just about anything else that we do.” From classroom to career, don’t overlook that Biology homework!