MDI Biological Laboratory

Give the Gift of Discovery

  • November 30, 2016

With your help, the MDI Biological Laboratory is changing lives. Hear firsthand from Isaiah Mansour, an undergraduate at the University of Maine, about the impact of our hands-on education programs.

I grew up in Connecticut and vividly remember visiting Acadia with my family as a child, watching the waves crash against the shore. With every ebb and flow I remember feeling a profound surge of power wash over me and thinking, There is something special about this place. I need to come back here.

Fast forward to my junior year at the University of Maine when I found out via the honors college that I could take an INBRE course at the MDI Biological Laboratory called Molecular Mechanisms of Human Disease. By now I’m a marine science student. I study fish and snails — not molecules, mechanisms, humans or diseases. But I decided to enroll in the course anyway, not having any idea of what to expect. I never realized it would revolutionize the rest of my life and the rest of my career.

During the week-long course we spent eight to ten hours a day in the training lab gaining hands-on experience with all sorts of different techniques, understandings and principles. The course also gave me the opportunity to connect with different scientists and professors to get insight into what the research life is really like. By the end of the program I found myself sitting on the shore by Star Point watching the waves and thinking to myself, There is something really special about this place. I need to come back here.

I returned to the University of Maine and finalized my application to spend the summer at the MDI Biological Laboratory. Happily, I received a fellowship to spend last summer working with Aric Rogers, Ph.D., studying the molecular biology of aging. Needless to say, this experience was another paradigm shift in my understanding of scientific purpose, practice and protocols. But it has also been an incredible opportunity for me to talk with scientists and professors who have given me the encouragement, support and positive critiques that I might not have realized I needed to achieve the goals that I have for myself and my career in science. That’s a huge part of what MDI Biological Laboratory summer fellowships are all about. In science you can read papers, manuscripts and books, but they mean very little until you can actually apply the knowledge firsthand. The MDI Biological Laboratory gives us an opportunity to do just that. It gives us the opportunity to develop as researchers and as people.

Thank you to the MDI Biological Laboratory for giving students like me a place to grow in this fresh field of life.

As we approach the end of the calendar year, we hope you will consider making a charitable gift to our Discovery Fund. With your help, the MDI Biological Laboratory will continue to provide students like Isaiah the opportunity to develop their scientific and professional skills and gain the experience they need to be successful.

For those aged 70½, the law now has a permanent provision for you to make a gift directly from your IRA to the MDI Biological Laboratory. Learn more…