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SAR HS Students Perform Two Molecular Biology Experiments at Regeneron

On Tuesday, November 29th, sixty SAR High School Advanced Placement Biology students visited the RegeneronPharmaceuticals facility in Sleepy Hollow, New York where they performed two labs run by the Cold Spring Harbor Dolan DNA Learning Center. In the first lab, they cut up bacterial DNA using two different restriction endonucleases. These bacterial enzymes normally protect bacteria from bacteriophage (viral) DNA. They then separated the fragments using an important biotechnology tool called gel electrophoresis. Students learned how to pipette the DNA into a “well” in one of their gels. After running an electric current through the gel, they were able to see the separated DNA fragments. Gel electrophoresis has many applications in biotechnology including separating DNA and protein sequences for further study.

“I really enjoyed having a whole day strictly dedicated to experimenting,” says Junior Gaby Mero. “It was a great opportunity to increase our knowledge of the transformation of bacteria and electrophoresis.”

In a second experiment, the students inserted DNA plasmids (small circular bacterial DNA which is separate from the bacteria’s main chromosome) into bacterial cells, allowing them to grow and glow in a petri dish that has nutrients and an antibiotic (ampicillin). Tiny glowing colonies of bacteria that were successfully transformed could be seen on a plate. Transformed bacteria can be used to make drugs and other chemicals, such as those needed to clean oil spills.

The labs that we did allowed us to experience a real lab setting. It was an amazing experience.

Junior Charlotte Moreen

“The trip to the Dolan DNA Learning Center provided a unique learning experience for our students that would otherwise not be accessible to them,” says Mr. Bob Goodman, science teacher. “The labs required the students to carry out challenging procedures over a six hour period using instruments that they had never used before, and they truly rose to the occasion.”