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Science Gets Personal at First Workshop in Region's Public Biomedical Lab

Kids to Harvest Their Own DNA—and Make a T-shirt to Prove It!

What does your DNA look like?

Kids can find out this weekend in the inaugural public workshop at Pittsburgh’s first community biomedical lab, a collaboration started by Duquesne University and Urban Innovation 21.

Not only will students harvest their own DNA, they will use an industry-standard process—a polymerase chain reaction—to magnify copies of a specific region of their DNA. Next, they’ll use electrophoresis to separate their DNA by size of fragments and different electrical charges to create their own unique DNA profiles.

They’ll be able to show the world what they’ve accomplished—by putting an image of their DNA on a T-shirt.

This process of DNA fingerprinting is the first public adventure in the life of The Citizen Science Lab, said Dr. Andre Samuel, director of the Citizen Science Lab in the lower Hill District.

This first workshop will meet from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Energy Innovation Center, 1501 Bedford Ave., formerly the Connelly Trade School. On Sunday, Jan. 18, from 1 to 4 p.m., students will create their shirts at the Tech Shop in Bakery Square.

“The Citizen Science Lab is one of the very few community biomedical labs in the country,” said Dr. Alan Seadler, Duquesne’s associate academic vice president for research and technology, who was critical in obtaining grant funding for the lab. “Not only does it promote science among children but, very importantly, it reaches into the entire community. Duquesne and Urban Innovation 21 are partnering to meet the national goals of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, and Duquesne continues its mission of service to its neighbors, particularly underserved communities.”

The programs at The Citizen Science Lab are designed to spark the interest of young people in the life sciences. “It is crucial that we address the lack of science opportunities in our communities by providing fun and engaging experiments that keep the students interested in life sciences as an attainable career option,” Samuel said.

The next weekend program at The Citizen Science Lab, Jan. 24-25, will focus on genetic modification of plant cells. A limited number of scholarships are available. Visit www.thecitizensciencelab.org for more information.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.