Biomedical Hands-On Research Course

This image from the Mark Welch laboratory shows structured consortia of microbes in dental plaque.
Microbial structures in human dental plaque. Credit: Jessica Mark Welch

Microbiomes, Biological Imaging, Gene Editing, and Genetic Analysis

The course is designed to provide fellows with hands-on laboratory experience in carrying out some of the cutting-edge methods underlying exciting developments in modern biomedical research.

Fellows have the unique opportunity to experience how basic biomedical researchers approach questions, at an institution renowned for contributing to our understanding of life at the cellular and molecular levels.

Working with scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory, fellows will collect, analyze, and interpret data. The main emphasis is on hands-on activities with two experimental foci: the human microbiome and gene editing using CRISPR-Cas9.

In the microbiome portion of the course, fellows will sample their own oral microbiomes, or use existing samples if they prefer, and image the spatial structure of the microbiome using state-of-the-art instrumentation. They will analyze the images to compare the organization of microbes in different parts of the mouth.

In the gene editing portion of the course, fellows will edit a gene in an aquatic model organism by microinjection, followed by microscopy to assess the changes in the organism resulting from gene editing. The course will include hands-on experience of DNA sequencing, including DNA extraction, PCR (polymerase chain reaction), and analysis of sequence data using public databases.

At the end of this intensive, 10-day course, fellows will interpret and present some of their laboratory data to their colleagues at a mini-symposium. In addition to spending time at the lab bench, fellows will have both formal and informal discussions with scientists on topics ranging from the fundamentals of molecular biology to the culture and politics of science.

Hilary Brueck
2022 Biomedical Fellow Hilary Brueck presenting her data at the fellows' mini-symposium.
James Dineen in 2021 Biomedical Lab Credit Jessica Mark WElch
2021 Biomedical Fellow James Dinneen in the lab. Credit: Jessica Mark Welch