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The Approach to Bioscience Education

Beginning with the Bridge to Biotechnology Program (B2B), students will learn via contextual models in laboratory mathematics, language arts and science in the B2B curriculum.  These are well-developed and have documented success with the types of learners this initiative seeks to address.  Following the B2B, students will enroll in more advanced coursework including nucleic acid chemistry, methods of protein analysis and environmental pollution and remediation.  These courses deliver hands-on laboratory skills training to develop the skills necessary to work in the bioscience industry.  Additionally, students will explore the Haitian micro and macro flora, provide microbiological inventory of the Haitian landscape and develop skills necessary for localized environmental action.

Using DNA Barcoding in Evolutionary and Forensic Biology A key benefit of DNA barcoding is to classify species in a fast and cost-effective manner. Barcoding allows students to explore biodiversity, test products for contraband, or identify and map organisms that are important for human health. The Haitian curriculum allows students to do authentic research while integrating PCR, sequencing, and bioinformatics. Non-caustic reagents are used to extract DNA from a small amount of animal or plant tissue. PCR is then used to amplify the barcode sequence encoding either COI (cytochrome c oxidase I) in animals, rbcL (ribulosebiphosphate carboxylase, large subunit) in plants, ribosomal genes (as 16S rDNA) in microbes, or functional genes (as cholera toxins or arsenate respiration) in bacteria. Amplification is confirmed through gel electrophoresis and the products are shipped to a DNA sequencing lab, where the barcode nucleotide sequence is determined. The completed sequences will be uploaded to a new Internet microsite where they can be accessed, compared and used to construct phylogenetic trees, allowing species identification.

Genotyping by PCR The Haitian curriculum utilizes PCR-based labs, which provide an entry into genotyping, molecular forensics, population genetics, and personalized medicine. These labs include: exploring the inherited ability to taste the bitter chemical phenylthiocarbamide (PTC), analyzing the highly polymorphic VNTR D1S80, detecting genetically modified foods, and sequencing the mt control region. In each case, simple procedures are used to isolate DNA, and the variable locus is amplified by PCR. For PTC, the amplified DNA is then cut with restriction enzymes that differentiate between alleles. The products are then separated by agarose gel electrophoresis and analyzed or, in the case of the mt control region, sequenced prior to analysis. Each experiment is accompanied by bioinformatics exercises that complement the experiments, allowing participants to predict and interpret their results.

Our aim is for students attending the campus to automatically have access to enroll in the state university system.  An instructional team consisting of two faculty members will teach and manage the 3500 square foot laboratory learning center.  Curricula will incorporate contextual learning via Bridge to Biotech as developed and piloted by the National Biotechnology Education Center, Bio-Link. (http://www.bio-link.org/home/bridge-to-biotech).  These programs combine a biotechnological context for math, science and language arts to accelerate learning to prepare graduates for work in the life science industry.