The summer research programs are designed for undergraduate students with limited experience in a biomedical research laboratory.  The program focuses on gene expression and relevant laboratory techniques.  A fundamental understanding of the genetic information contained in DNA and its subsequent transcription to mRNA and subsequent translation into protein is required for any student pursuing a STEM career.  Students will be assigned one of five labs (Drs. Scott Garrett, Seema Somji, Jane Dunlevy, Van Doze, Kumi Combs). Some activities will be a large group, others within the smaller lab group. Techniques include the following:

* Using standard curves
* mRNA extraction
* cDNA synthesis
* Quantifying DNA, RNA, and proteins
* Protein extraction
* Western Blotting
* Agarose and SDS-PAGE electrophoresis
* Making reagents/solutions/buffers for experiments
* Introduction to Histology, Fluorescent Microscopy, and Immunohistochemistry

The first week of the program, in addition to orientation and instruction in general lab techniques, includes usage of pipettes to generate standard curves, illustrate accuracy and precision, data analysis including mean, standard deviation and standard errors, and linear regression.

In the second week of the program the students are each given a gene or genes of interest for detailed study. These genes are chosen from multiple human and animal model microarray studies in the mentors’ laboratories. Students are also introduced to the isolation of total RNA from cells and tissues and the paradigm that gene expression goes from DNA to mRNA to protein.

In week three and ensuing weeks, the students are provided with total RNA samples to validate the gene expression profiles noted on the microarrays and to determine the expression of these genes in different disease states.  The disease states include cancer, renal disease and neurological disorders. Each student determines the concentration of their total RNA samples and designs an experiment using real time PCR to quantify gene expression. This process normally occupies the student through week 6 of the program.

The program normally uses week 7 -8 to introduce the student to western blotting for protein expression and immunohistochemistry and immunocytochemistry for localization of protein expression in tissues and cells, respectively. The final two weeks of the program are for data wrap-up and analysis and preparation of a poster for presentation on the summer undergraduate research day. Throughout the program, faculty and graduate students present didactic lectures on the topics being explored by the students