MDI Biological Laboratory

Bridging Disciplines

The course is offered in-person with some online instruction and asynchronous course discussion aimed at creating a community of learners who are interested in toxicology and impacts of chemical contaminants on human health, neurobiology, regenerative capacity, and aging. Students will be provided with support to prepare a poster presentation for the annual Maine Biological and Medical Sciences Symposium in April 2022.

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Bridging Disciplines is a five day course for Maine undergraduates interested in gaining biomedical research experience and learning about interdisciplinary approaches to solving complex environmental health problems. This year the focus will be on toxicology and regeneration. What are the biological impacts of exposure to toxic substances in the environment? How do these exposures affect regenerative capacities and the aging process?

Students will be introduced to fundamental research concepts, methodology, tools, and conducting in vivo based-bioassays using Planaria and Drosophila as animal models. Student-generated data will be collected, analyzed, and discussed in order to understand how animal responses to toxic exposure relates to human health. Students will be able to interact with professionals and experts who can provide insights on the interdisciplinary connections between their fields. Course topics will include:

  • Concepts and current news in environmental toxicology as it relates to regeneration and aging biology
  • Toxicity assays with planaria and fruit flies
  • Use of other animal models such as nematode C. elegans
  • Advanced microscopy tools and techniques
  • Use of CRISPR in toxicology research
  • Role of Bioinformatics in understanding genomic level impacts of chemical exposures
  • Responsible conduct of research and bioethics
  • Research data interpretation and sharing with scientific communities as well as the general public
  • Communication concepts and tools to facilitate working across disciplines
  • Problem framing, leadership, decision making, and internal/external communication systems for linking science with societal needs
  • Translating research to clinical practice
  • Commercialization of scientific discovery
  • Impacts of scientific research on public policy

The course includes lectures or presentations covering conceptualization of a research study, designing, planning, and conducting experiments, analyzing data, and interpretation via on-line modalities. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in forum discussions related to course content to build a community of learners working together to understand topics in environmental toxicology and public health.