DNA Sequencing
RNA Isolation & Detection




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Development of DNA Sequencing and RNA Isolation and Detection Protocols for the Undergraduate Laboratory
College biology students are usually exposed to the theory of DNA sequencing and RNA analysis. However while the methods underlying these theories are considered common in basic research and biotechnology related industries, they are rarely included in undergraduate laboratory exercises. Explanations for these omission in the curriculum included valid concerns over safety and effectiveness. Traditional methods of sequencing are time consuming and require radioactive material. Traditional RNA isolation and detection requires use of caustic materials, RNA itself is highly unstable and its detection also requires radioactivity. Fortunately new technologies have been developed. It has also been thought by some that 'undergrads can't do that kind of work'. That line of reasoning is invalid. For many students the best way to learn is by 'doing'. 

In 2000 Drs Karen Bernd and David Wessner received an Educational Enhancement Grant from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to develop methods to study differential gene expression and to perform DNA sequencing. The grant allowed Davidson College students John McKillop ('01), Liz Nugent ('02), Shannon Riedley ('00), and Christine Larned ('01) to work as research associates so the methods developed are 'for students/by students'. Our research has developed non-caustic, non-radioactive methods so that our courses can make sure that Davidson students don't just read about these techniques--they also know how to do them.

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