MDI Biological Laboratory

Molecular Mechanisms of Human Disease: University of Maine Honors College

A short course for students enrolled in the University of Maine's Honors College.


The Molecular Mechanisms of Human Disease course is designed to give students hands-on experience in biomedical research. The course is held annually over an intense week at the MDI Biological Laboratory and continues at the University of Maine over the course of the Spring semester. Interested students apply to attend the course in the Fall.

During the course, students are split up into teams and rotate through three different modules that each last two days. Rotations in the 2022 course are as follows:

  1. Using advanced microscopy techniques to elucidate cellular structures and processes. Prof. Karissa Tilbury and Dr. Frederic Bonnet (MDI Biological Laboratory) teach this module.
  2. Studying how low-level environmental and genetic factors impact innate immune system function in zebrafish embryos through bioinformatics analysis of RNA sequence data. Prof. Ben King and Prof. Keith Hutchison teach this module.
  3. Learning about personalized medicine where treatments are tailored to an individual’s genotype. The module utilizes three different genotyping methods using PCR and sequencing. Prof. Bruce Stanton (Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth) and Dr. Denry Sato (MDI Biological Laboratory) teach this module.

At the end of each rotation, each team will present a summary of their work including data collected. After completing all three rotations, each student will choose to be part of a group that compiles data from the three different teams to make one final presentation.

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About the Maine INBRE program

This short course is supported and organized by the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE).

Maine is one of 23 states that have been identified by the National Institutes of Health as having historically received low levels of NIH funding. The INBRE program was established to strengthen research networks in each of these states, so that they could become more competitive for federal research grants. In Maine, our network is comprised of 14 institutions, with the MDI Biological Laboratory as the lead institution. Other institutions in our network include the following: Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, College of the Atlantic, the Honors College at the University of Maine, the Jackson Laboratory, Southern Maine Community College, the University of Maine, UMaine Farmington, UMaine Fort Kent, UMaine Machias, UMaine Presque Isle, and the University of New England.

Money from Maine INBRE supports research training experiences like this short course, as well biomedical research and laboratory facilities throughout our network. Other training experiences include academic year and summer student research. Please check with Sally Molloy, the INBRE contact at the Honors College, for the most accurate information about opportunities on your campus. She may be able to share additional opportunities with you as well.


This research training opportunity is supported by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM103423.

The IDeA program builds research capacities in states that historically have had low levels of NIH funding by supporting basic, clinical and translational research; faculty development; and infrastructure improvements.