Agilent Technologies Inc. has announced that Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Dolan DNA Learning Center (DNALC) has adopted the Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer system to teach high school students and teachers how to analyze DNA.
The Bioanalyzer uses miniaturized “lab-on-a-chip” technology to replace traditional slab gel electrophoresis techniques, greatly speeding up the process, improving consistency of results and reducing use of hazardous chemicals associated with DNA analysis.
Television series such as Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) have pushed forensic biology into kids’ living rooms, and this topic is now also included in the New York State Regents Biology syllabus. Agilent instruments allow students to develop their own “DNA fingerprints” and in a half-day field trip to the DNALC, they can produce results that are virtually identical to those pursued by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
“Seeing their own DNA gives students a tangible link to the modern study of human genetic variation and how science is used in both court cases and the study of human evolution,” explained David Micklos, DNALC executive director. “The DNALC is the only organization in the world to provide this sort of high-level experience on a regular basis to pre-college students.”
Agilent initially donated one Bioanalyzer to the DNALC. Based on its speed, high analytical capacity and ease-of-use, the centre incorporated the instrument in a protocol designed to analyze each student’s own DNA using new forensic DNA protocols.
Subsequently, the DNALC purchased five additional units for its teaching labs around New York City, including the newest facility located in East Harlem. Currently, the instruments are used as part of a four-hour workshop to genotype each of the 1,000 students who attend the DNALC Forensic DNA Profiling Class every year.
“We’ve enjoyed a close working relationship with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory community over the years,” said Leo Brizuela, Ph.D., of Agilent’s Life Sciences Solutions Unit. “We are especially excited to contribute technology that helps their work in educating future generations of scientists.”