Behind the Breakthroughs: Using Laboratory Organisms in Biomedical Research

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

Groundbreaking advancements in our understanding of human health and disease could not be accomplished without the help of some interesting creatures. In this laboratory-intensive course we will work with several model organisms as well as mammalian cells grown in culture. Students will gain practical laboratory experience in the context of published biomedical research.

Medicine does not begin with clinical trials. In fact, many years of research must be conducted using other systems before being applied to humans. Did you know that tremendous strides have been made in stem cell research by using a small, pond-dwelling worm? The same yeast that makes bread dough rise is also used to uncover mechanisms in cancer. You've probably heard of E. coli, but did you know that this bacteria is safe to work with in the lab and essential for recombinant DNA technology in all other model organisms? You will get an overview of what each of these common lab organisms is and how it is used in biomedical research. You will learn about how scientists are currently using them by reading recently-published studies and performing similar experiments using these organisms. Topics covered will include stem cell biology, cancer and neurodegenerative disease. Experiments will include DNA isolation and manipulation, gel electrophoresis, neural differentiation of mammalian cells, fluorescence microscopy, UV mutagenesis and regeneration.

This course will expose students to an array of the most useful model organisms and laboratory techniques that make up the foundation of biomedical research. You will learn the basic technical skills to work safely in a laboratory setting and perform your own experiments. You will read primary literature research articles and understand how experiments like the ones you are doing lead to medical advances. Although we will be working in the lab extensively, no prior experience is required. After completing this course, you will be well prepared for a college-level introductory biology lab or academic research experience.

Prerequisites: Completion of a high school biology course is required.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBI0977
  • Length: 1 week
  • Supplemental Fee: $50

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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