AMGEN Biotech Experience, 2017

Maler_der_Grabkammer_des_Sennudem_001

Ploughing with a yoke of horned cattle in Ancient Egypt. Painting from the burial Chamber of Sennedjem, c. 1200 BC

 

Although the word biotechnology sounds new and contemporary, we’ve been tweaking genes–the stuff of life–for millennia:
“Early people began altering communities of flora and fauna for their own benefit through means such as fire-stick farming and forest gardening very early. Exact dates are hard to determine, as people collected and ate seeds before domesticating them, and plant characteristics may have changed during this period without human selection. An example is the semi-tough rachis and larger seeds of cereals from just after the Younger Dryas (about 9,500 BC) in the early Holocene in the Levant region of the Fertile Crescent. Monophyletic characteristics were attained without any human intervention, implying that apparent domestication of the cereal rachis could have occurred quite naturally. 
Agriculture began independently in different parts of the globe, and included a diverse range of taxa. At least 11 separate regions of the Old and New World were involved as independent centers of origin. Some of the earliest known domestications were of animals. Pigs were domesticated in Mesopotamia around 13,000 BC. Sheep were domesticated in Mesopotamia between 11,000 and 9,000 BC. Cattle were domesticated from the wild aurochs in the areas of modern Turkey and Pakistan around 8,500 BC. Camels were domesticated late, perhaps around 3,000 BC.”–Via
Nowadays, the stuff that we can do with genes would seem like wizardry to ancient Mesopotamians. We can use the immune system of bacteria to edit the human genome. With current techniques, insulin can be made by embedding human genetic code in the genome of Escherichia coli. In other words, if the plow, the scythe, and slashing and burning were the tools that made it possible for the ancients to manipulate genes, the micropipette, the electrophoresis chamber, and the agarose gel are new the hardware.
 AP and Honor (10th Grade) students:
Write a brief reflection–of no more than 150 words–of your Biotech Experience (March 6–10, 2017) on the comment section below. This being a blog, you can add pictures, videos, and/or hyperlinks to your comment. Remember that your experience had to be documented with pictures (a minimum of 5). Send them to madrover@cupeyvilleschool.org. The total value of this assignment is 50 points. Due date: March 31, 2017.
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22 thoughts on “AMGEN Biotech Experience, 2017

  1. I found this lab one of the most interesting we have done. First, the lab coats made it feel real sciency and since we worked with actual tools from a laboratory, it felt like the real thing. Also, taking it step by step and doing things one at a time to perfect the way we did them and in the last day to the actual experiment was great because that way we all did a good job once we got to do the real thing. Learning the ability one has in a lab and knowing how well you can do these type of experiments helps alot to think about the future, for example, doing the strawberry DNA sample I realized that although it was very interesting I am not a person to work in a lab. As much as in the dissections, speaking about the ones in 10th grade, i realized I wanted to work with animals and actual body parts. So these labs are not just about learning how scientist do stuff, but also help you determine what you want for your future.

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    • As soon as you begin your college experience, look for ongoing research that requires undergraduate assistance. It is hard to imagine a contemporary Biology faculty without some kind of ongoing Biotech research.

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  2. This was an amazing and innovative experience. I learned a lot through the week filled with this labs. It is a perfect way to teach students and even teachers due to its first person interactions. From DNA extraction of a strawberry to micro pipetting and gel electrophoresis one can see an enzymes job breaking down the barriers holding DNA, to even observing the DNA interactions in the gel. In the end product we see the different sizes of DNA and how they are attracted to the positive charge. The different types of fluids and their color gave us a better idea and view of how the their DNA differentiated from each other. In my opinion, this is a better way to learn then just seeing it in a textbook. I recommend it to everyone. https://www.amgenbiotechexperience.com/introduction-biotechnology-micropipetting-and-gel-electrophoresis-0

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    • Remember that what you guys did was but an introductory experience–basically, instrumentation. I really hope that you’ll be able to manipulate much more that dyes. There are many more modules of AMGEN Biotech Exp.: Protein purification, gene cloning, PCR & restriction enzymes. I you’re intrested in the field, there are many opportunities in college. You can work on many investigations.

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  3. The Biotech Experience was very interesitng and helped us understand beyond what we learn form books. We had the opportunity of a hands on experience of extracting DNA from a strawberry. This was done by squashing the strawberry and added dishwater in order to destroy any nuclear barriers so we cooul properly extract the DNA. Then, we inserted it in a test tube and added ethanol, which produced a layer of alcohol that allowed for the precipitation of DNA. Also, the micropipete allowed us to practice how to use it for futere references. At the same time, the micropipete was challenging because one had to have precision to insert the tint in the wells in order to see how each tint reacted to the negative and positive electrodes. All in all, this lab was very impressive and hopefully it will help us in future laboratory experiences.

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  4. It was interesting to learn and experience the basics of how lab scientists work everyday with genetic engineering. We worked with micropipettes, electrophorasis chambers, microcentrifusions, and more. It definitely takes a lot of practice to use the micropipettes efficiently when dropping the fluid in the petri dish, you need a steady grip and pulse to drop it in the wells without it spilling. Using surgery coats and lab equipment gave me a good insight of what working in a lab feels like and it is a very interesting field to investigate more on. Biotechnology has had a huge upgrade technologically in the past years, but who knows what other even better equipments will be developed in the next years? Genetic knowledge might be something fully explored and discovered for everyone to learn about.

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  5. Honestly, I believe the best part of the lab was the part in which we had the oportunity to extract actual DNA from a strawberry. I always thought that one had to be a super scientist, study a lot about the topic and even have extremely advanced maxhines or tools in order to obtain DNA; yet this process showed/convinced me that it ia false. With simple “ingredients” and tools I was able to obtain DNA from a strawberry. The process was very exciting, to see how weird it was, yet obviously effective. Fortunately, I was able to document (take pictures/videos) the final outcome of this experiment and enjoy it again and again. Along with my partner Diego Suarez, we learned a lot of new things related to Amgen and their advancements which helped us extract DNA; most importantly, I learned a lot of things related to DNA. Now we both have an idea about how a bunch of DNA together grabbed out of the strawberry/dishwater fluid and ethanol solution. I will send a short video of us enjoying (especially Diego) DNA extracted of the strawberry.

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  6. The Amgen Lab is definitely the most interesting and impressive lab we have done. It was an amazing opportunity to use these kind of instruments and learn a lot of things by doing the experiments throughout the week. We started the week extracting the DNA from a strawberry using ethanol and dishwater fluid to dissolve the cell wall and the phospholipid bilayer of the strawberry. Then we practiced micro pipetting for the final product the last day where we used a gel electrophoresis to observe DNA interactions with the positive and negative sides of the gel. This was an amazing experience that not everyone has. These type of activities should be more used in classroms as a teaching method.

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  7. This lab was definitely one of my favorites of the many we’ve done this year. The fact that we were able to use professional equipment and to perform experiments with this equipment is what really made this experience stand out from the rest. Extracting the DNA from a strawberry was something that really baffled me, and learning to use the micropipette was a really fun experience for me, and the use of the electrophoresis chamber and the agarose gel was very exciting for me. This experiments left me amazed at just how far were gotten in the world of biotechnology and I’m happy to have gotten an opportunity to do something that not many people in high school get a chance to experience. All in all, it was an amazing experience. Personally, I believe that activities like this should be made available more often to students in high school, because this would provide them with useful knowledge and experience for when they go into college.

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    • Remember that we can do much more than medicine with Biology. The purpose of this experience was to show students that we have Biotech careers as options. I would’ve studied a Biotech related career when I was in college 15 years ago.

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  8. This week we had the chance to experience one of the most rewarding activities, i believe, this course has to offer. During this week, firstly we extracted DNA from a strawberry by using dishwasher fluid and ethanol (alcohol) to help in the breaking of the barriers and cellulose of the strawberry and then actually extracting the DNA. It was really cool to me to see how DNA from the strawberry look like and how easy and fast it was to extract the DNA. In the next activity, we got the chance to use a micropipette for the first time and to learn its proper way of using and practice using the micropipette and handling it. It was really interesting to me to see how that tool can take an exact amount of liquid or substance you want and how it is very efficient and easy to use once you get the hang of it. Although at the beginning, I thought it was easier than it really was. it was fun to try and get the red dye perfectly into the wells although I did mess up a couple of times. Lastly, we used an electrophoresis chamber to separate the smallest and largest DNA molecules of the different types of dyes. Awe had to wait for 10 minutes to see the results of which dyes passed to the positive side and which didn’t. It was interesting how we actually used the instruments used in labs everyday by scientists. Here is a link to a video that I believe is very helpful. It is a video explaining how to use and handle a micropipette. I found it very helpful an useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Afh_0IAfrQ

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  9. I could say that we had probably one of the most interesting lab weeks that we have ever had. We were very so fortunate to be able to use Amgens lab tools and instruments to conduct a certain series of experiments. Tools specified for our lab, which can help us if we were ever thinkig of studying biology and ever wound up in a lab. For me it was a pretty cool experience since i had seen most of the instruments before and always wondered what they were for and never got the chance to use them, but thanks to Mr. Adrover and Amgen labs i was able to achieve one of my childhood goals. I know that if i ever decided to study biology i would be prepared, even though our examples were not perfect they were our chance to experience firsthand lab work. If i could do it again i would, but next time in a real lab so i could get the full experience and really see how it is done, also i would like to meet the people who do this day in and day out so that they could teach me how their job came to be chosen and what they have learned that has helped throughout their career and also in their daily lives.

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  10. The AMGEN Biotech Experience gave us the chance to make experiments with tools scientist use. I could only attend to the first lab, but it was amazing. I was surprised in how easy the DNA of a fruit, for example, the strawberry could be extracted from it. At first, I thought that the process of obtaining the DNA was going to be somewhat complicated. Turned out that the process was fairly simple; the strawberry was smashed into a liquid state breaking the cell walls to make it easier when extracting the DNA. That liquid was then poured into a solution of dishwasher soap and ethanol to separate the DNA from the rest of the liquid. When the stick was inserted, the entire molecule of DNA could be extracted from the solution forming a phlegm like substance. I really liked this experiment because it was very impressive how easy it was to observe the DNA molecule just with these easy steps.

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  11. The AMGEN biotech experience was an enriching experience that fulfilled my curiosity for working with actual genetic material. My favorite part was when we extracted the DNA of a strawberry, I would’ve never thought it would look that way! The DNA’s consistency was gooey like phlegm. The process was simple, fast and the materials were accessible. It was really an experience that I won’t forget and it was most definitely the best lab we have done so far. I do hope to have the opportunity to work with other things rather than fruits and dyes in the future and put to test what I have learned so far.

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  12. The AMGEN Biotech experience gave us the practice we need to fulfill more complex labs in our future. This lab gave us a step forward towards college. It was interesting extracting DNA from a strawberry and actually understanding the chemical substances put on the strawberry squashed such as dishwater to break the boundaries of the cells, and ethanol in the test tube for the attraction of the negative charge of DNA and the positive charge of ethanol. Another innovating experience was when we first used the micropipete. I learned that if applied practice your pulse can be perfected little by little. These experiments gave me and insight to what we will be learning in our futures and I loved the experience of it.

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