MDI Biological Laboratory

What Philanthropy Makes Possible

  • August 9, 2022

If you like bananas, you probably have a preference for which color -- green, yellow, or brown -- you reach for first (Team Green, anyone?). The skin’s color clues you into the banana’s sugar and antioxidant levels: antioxidants peak when the banana is firm and fully yellow; sugars continue to develop as brown spots appear on the skin. Not only does color tell us things about food, it also strongly influences what we taste – does anyone else remember Heinz’s EZ Squirt purple ketchup? It’s just not the same.

On a summer night in July, Dr. Bob Morris led a group of special guests, including Kingsley Society and Star Point Society members, through a series of colorful food courses and experiments at MDIBL’s A Taste for Science event, which focused on the importance of color in food and its role in scientific research. For example, a roasted oyster dish demonstrated the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction that gives browned foods their distinctive flavor (think toast). Rice noodles, dyed blue with red cabbage, changed to purple with the addition of lime juice, a shift occurring on a molecular level.

Most of the biomedical research happening at MDIBL occurs on a molecular level, and our scientists use microscopy to peer into this invisible world. Accompanying Dr. Bob were postdoctoral fellow Dr. Marko Pende and research assistant Hannah Somers. Both Marko and Hannah are outstanding microscopists who use fluorescence microscopy to understand cellular structures. Hannah, who is part of the Rollins lab, studies aging and longevity in C. elegans. Marko, a postdoc in the Murawala lab, focuses on the role of the peripheral nervous system during limb regeneration in the axolotl.

Our Light Microscopy Facility, managed by Frederic Bonnet, Ph.D., is one of the most cutting-edge facilities on the east coast (more about our microscopes here). MDIBL’s supporters are absolutely key to helping MDIBL invest in this crucial scientific instrumentation and in the hands and expertise to unlock biology’s secrets and propel our research to the next level. Stay tuned as we share our progress in building a mesoSPIM light sheet microscope, which will change the way our scientists looks at samples. As of 2022, there are only 14 of these in the world – two are in the United States and zero are on the East Coast.