Aging is a multifaceted process affected by the interplay of both genetics and environments. While much research on genetics in aging has been conducted, the non-genetic factors, such as the environmental toxicology of aging, have been under-explored. Arsenic is a common toxicant found in ground water that has been linked to age-related diseases, suggesting a plausible association to aging physiology.
This week-long course will provide the fundamental concepts of toxicology and aging biology via lectures, discussions, reading current news articles and scientific publications, and critical thinking exercises. The course will also offer hands-on research experiences. Students will examine the toxicity of arsenic exposure using nematode C. elegans in i) developing toxicological testing methodologies, ii) assessing several biomarkers of health-span and lifespan, and iii) interpreting research data for scientific communities as well as for general public.
- Practice skills that will be required throughout the week to address research questions related to elegans
- Examine the effects of arsenic exposure on physiology and behavior of C elegans:
- Acute toxicity: death of P0 animals
- Lack of viable progeny : no F1 animals
- Stress responses: % survival assay
- Developmental speed: time of the first egg- laying
- Progeny production: fecundity: brood size
- Motility and muscle function
- Swimming (threshing) assay upon toxicant exposure
- Microscopic imaging of changes in muscle structure (actin or myosin)
- Neurological and behavior assay
- Burrowing assay
- Speed of food depletion: the rate of food consumption
- Acute exposure vs. chronic (long-term exposure)
- Jane Disney: SEPA program (arsenic in drinking water in Maine)
- Doug Currie: In-vitro (cell-based) toxicological assays
- Liz Marnik: CRISPR technology to edit genomes of elegans.
- Nishad Jayasundara: Global arsenic problems, recent arsenic data using Zebrafish
Undergraduates are not charged a fee; housing and meals are provided free of charge.
- Juyoung Shim, Ph.D.Lecturer of BiologyUniversity of Maine at Augusts
- Douglas Currie, Ph.D.Associate Professor of Biology and Graduate CoordinatorUniversity of Southern Maine
- Jane E. Disney, Ph.D.Senior Staff Scientist; Director of Research Training; Director, Community Environmental Health LaboratoryMDI Biological Laboratory
- Nishad Jayasundara, Ph.D.Assistant ProfessorUniversity of Maine Honors College
Sunday – Arrival, Orientation, Course Introduction, and Responsible Conduct of Research Training
Monday – Communicating Across Disciplines (Abby Roche, graduate student in Communication, University of Maine)-Dahlgren Hall-all day
In the “Communication Across Disciplines” session students will:
- Begin to form a learning community to learn more about each other’s disciplinary training and support their participation in a larger collaborative project going on between UMA, UMO, and MDI Biological Laboratory, among other institutions.
Learn about best practices for science communication, focusing on interdisciplinary collaboration, that will help them with their interdisciplinary project in the course and in their careers as scientists
- Develop skills related to case study analysis and in giving effective and interesting science presentations
9:00-10:30am: Guest lecture (Sam Beck, Research faculty at MDIBL): Chromatin structure changes with aging
10:45-12:00pm: Students will learn to handle and transfer C.elegans and to set up and perform the bioassays of arsenic exposed vs. control groups in the laboratory
1-3pm: Students will continue laboratory activities or learn about animal model systems, current works on arsenic exposure, and basic practice skills in biomedical research.
3:15-5: Lab activity or discussion
9-12: Arsenic toxicity lab
1-3pm: Guest lecture: Either Frederic Bonnet (on microscopy/visualization) or Liz Marnik (on CRISPR)
3:15-5: Lab activity or discussion
9-12: Lab activity (Led by Doug Currie, University of Southern Maine: cell culture arsenic toxicity lab)
1-3: Panel presentation and discussion on arsenic: Jane Disney, Doug Currie, Nishad Jayasundara, University of Maine
3:15-5: Lab Activity
Friday morning: Students will present and discuss about their research and reflect about the experience. Debrief will include how interdisciplinary communication aided the research process.