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Momma, Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Biotech Truckers

NEW YORK, Jan. 22 - Biotech is going on the road and into education in the guise of a seriously tricked-out eighteen-wheeler.


The mobile MdBioLab-on-wheels, a project launched by The Institute for Genomic Research, the Universityof Maryland BiotechnologyInstitute, and the non-profit MdBio, Inc., will begin pulling into high schools throughout Marylandin February, according to the organizations.


The rolling lab comfortably fits 32 students and is scheduled to introduce about 20,000 teens to biology and biotechnology while also training hundreds of teachers a year.


The 45-foot tractor-trailer will be equipped with 16 lap-top computers networked to a satellite system sitting on the roof and a gaggle of wet lab staples, including lab sinks, centrifuges, incubators, spectrophotometers, electrophoresis boxes, microscopes, a thermocycler, and shaker platforms, according to an MdBio spokesperson. The equipment was donated by Fisher Scientific International and The NIH Foundation.


Purchasing the truck and making it teen and scientist-friendly cost approximately $280,000, according MdBio. Annual operating costs for the program are estimated at $200,000.


The onboard staff will include TIGR researcher Jen Colvin and high school teacher Scott McIntosh. They will lead students through experiments, including forensic DNA-fingerprinting exercises, and introduce teens to bioinformatics databases and other resources via online hookups and video conferencing. Teacher training will take place at the end of the school day. The bio truck will spend one week at various schools.


In addition to introducing students to the latest genomic technologies, the program also strives to highlight bioscience career paths, said Gary Coleman, education director at the Universityof Maryland BiotechnologyInstitute.


Click here for additional information about the program.


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