Course Description

Biomedical Hands-on Research Course

Microbiomes, Biological Imaging, Gene Editing, and Genetic Analysis

SJP fellows in biomed lab 2015 Credit_RachaelBuchanan524sm

Logan SJP Fellows in the Biomedical Course lab. Photo by Racheal Buchanan, BBC

The Logan Science Journalism Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) gives fellows the unique opportunity to experience first-hand how basic biomedical researchers approach questions, at an institution renowned for its contributions to our understanding of life at the cellular and molecular levels.

This course is designed to give the participants hands-on laboratory experience in carrying out some of the cutting-edge methods underlying exciting developments in modern biomedical research.

Fellows in the course will work with scientists at the MBL to 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.


Microbial structures in human dental plaque. Credit: Jessica Mark Welch