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Gene Machine

Mobile lab makes first tour stop of school year at ATEC

Posted: October 25, 2011 4:40 p.m.
Updated: October 26, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Equipped with safety glasses, latex gloves and protective aprons, the scientists hunched over the work table, engrossed in the test at hand.

The discoveries they made may have been life-changing -- for them.

The Greenwood Genetic Center’s (GGC) Gene Machine made its 2011-2012 school year debut recently in Camden at the Applied Technology Education Campus. The mobile lab visited Health Science Education students -- those junior scientists in glasses, gloves and aprons -- offering hands-on lab activities and exposing teachers and students to the opportunities available through the Greenwood Genetic Center.

The Greenwood Genetic Center was awarded a grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute in 2009 that allowed the GGC to acquire the mobile science laboratory. The Gene Machine is a 41-foot custom bus equipped as a state-of-the-art genetics laboratory. Beginning last school year, the Gene Machine has travelled to high schools across the state to provide students first-hand exposure to the vast technologies used in the medical genetics arena. This opportunity is provided at no cost to schools.

“Our main campus has long been a popular destination for high school class field trips and community group tours, though travel to Greenwood is often impractical for some students across South Carolina,” said Leta Tribble, PhD, director of education at GGC. “The Gene Machine provides the opportunity for all students in our state to have hands-on laboratory experience and be exposed to various career opportunities in the biotechnology and genetics fields, and we hope to fill our tour schedule for 2011-2012 soon.”

S.C. teachers are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity and schedule a Gene Machine visit or tour of the GGC campus for their students. The grant that enabled the creation of the Gene Machine also provided funding to convert existing space at the GGC into a Genetic Education Center. This refurbished space provides a dedicated site for visiting groups to attend lectures as well as participate in laboratory and computer-based genetics activities.

Teachers who schedule a mobile laboratory visit or bring their students for a tour of the Greenwood campus will be able to select from multiple laboratory modules or “cases” for their students to complete. Each module includes a real-world scenario, laboratory techniques and genetic testing activities as well as consideration of ethical implications.

The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC), founded in 1974, is a nonprofit organization advancing the field of medical genetics and caring for families impacted by genetic disease and birth defects. At its home campus in Greenwood, a team of physicians and scientists provides clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing, educational programs and resources, and research in the field of medical genetics. GGC’s faculty and staff are committed to the goal of developing preventive and curative therapies for the individuals and families they serve. GGC extends its reach as a resource to all residents of South Carolina with satellite offices in Charleston, Columbia, Florence and Greenville.

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