UB and Roswell Park to welcome 400 Buffalo Public Schools students to Genome Day

Norma Nowak, executive director of UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.

CBLS director Norma Nowak (above) will help students better understand bioinformatics at Genome Day.

By Julie Molenda

Release Date: March 13, 2015

“The goal is to inspire and encourage students about STEM career opportunities. ”
Norma Nowak, executive director

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The road to the human genome started in Buffalo. So it is fitting that on Tuesday, March 17, the University at Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) welcome seventh and eighth graders from Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) to participate in Genome Day during Science Week.

Opening remarks start at 10 a.m. at RPCI Hohn Auditorium, located at the corner of Elm and Carlton streets.

At 11 a.m., students will be divided into small groups. They will then visit UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS), 701 Ellicott St., where graduate students and post doctorates from UB and RPCI will lead them through a series of activities that promote genomic and bioinformatics literacy.

Students will:

  • Extract their DNA and take it home in a necklace using Bio-Rad Laboratories’ “Genes in a Bottle” kit.
  • Complete a karyotyping activity to identify a disease by observing chromosomal differences.
  • Create and take home an origami model (to promote understanding of DNA structure).
  • Identify genetic mutations by interpreting sequences from healthy and tumor cells.

News media are invited to any part of the event. Students and others are encouraged tweet about the event using the hashtag #BPSGenomeDay2015.

“The goal is to inspire and encourage students about STEM career opportunities,” said Norma Nowak, PhD, executive director of CBLS. “On Genome Day we will welcome students to the world of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to teach them about the field of genomics and how the information encoded in their genomes will impact their healthcare across their lifetime.”

“Science Week offers students the extremely valuable experience of gaining hands-on exposure to scientific methods and concepts in a way that is fun and interactive,” said Shawnn Smark, life science group marketing manager at Bio-Rad Laboratories. “We understand that keeping kids interested in science as they progress through school is challenging, and we are proud to join the University at Buffalo and Buffalo Public Schools in meeting that challenge.”

Guest speakers include Nowak, also a UB professor of biochemistry and biomedical informatics, and Alexander N. Cartwright, PhD, SUNY provost and executive vice chancellor and UB professor of electrical engineering and biomedical engineering. Both scientists were instrumental in developing Genome Day.

“Genome Day is a terrific opportunity for UB and RPCI to engage Buffalo middle school students in creative, fun, academic experiences that introduce them to the power and possibilities of science,” said Cartwright. “Our goal is to show them that science is an important gateway to STEM opportunities in college and in their future careers.”

Genome Day is a partnership between the UB, SUNY Buffalo State, Erie Community College, the State University of New York (SUNY) and Roswell Park with the City of Buffalo and Buffalo Public Schools as part of STEM Experiences and the second annual Science Week.

Corporate partners include Praxair, Thermo Fisher Scientific, EverFi and Bio-Rad Laboratories with additional support from the Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and Project Flight.

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