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Learn to extract strawberry DNA and enjoy science-themed cocktails for National DNA Day

Rum is added to a strawberry and pineapple juice mixture for DNA Cocktails with Coalesce, a celebration of National DNA Day.

UB GEM event welcomes public to learn about genome science, bioart, and enjoy cocktails and microbiome-friendly foods

Release Date: April 5, 2017

A cotton swab visibly holding unfolded and precipitated DNA from a strawberry. Photo: Bridget Brace-MacDonald

Pineapple juice and high-proof rum are used to extract DNA from strawberries. Photo: Bridget Brace-MacDonald

A strainer is used to filter pulp from strawberry juice. Photo: Bridget Brace-MacDonald

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Science and cocktails will come together for one savory evening during the University at Buffalo’s DNA Cocktails with Coalesce.

The event, held in celebration of National DNA Day, will allow guests to try their hands at extracting strawberry DNA, an ingredient that will later become a part of various themed beverages.

DNA Cocktails with Coalesce will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 27, in the Coalesce Center for Biological Art in 308 Hochstetter Hall on the UB North Campus.

The event is free and open to the public; no science experience is required. Guests must be at least 21 years of age to participate. A selection of foods related to maintaining a healthy gut microbiome and non-alcoholic drinks will also be provided.

Registration is limited to the first 40 guests. To sign up, visit http://bit.ly/2mUAIU7.

The program is organized by the UB Community of Excellence in Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM), an interdisciplinary community of UB faculty and staff dedicated to advancing research on the genome and microbiome.

The Coalesce Center for Biological Art, a collaboration between GEM and the UB Department of Art, is an initiative that aims to expand public understanding of and participation in the life sciences through biological art workshops and exhibitions.

“This is our adult version of Genome Day. One of the core principles of GEM is to engage our broader community to promote genome and microbiome literacy. This event is a fun, hands-on way to do this and to demystify what goes on in a lab,” says Jennifer Surtees, PhD, GEM co-director and associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

Paul Vanouse, UB professor of art and director of the Coalesce Center for Biological Art, adds, “We wanted to do a public workshop with a DIY ethos.  We’re using only commonly accessible materials like pineapple juice and rum to extract DNA.  The best thing is that the leftovers are all immediately reusable and rather tasty.  It’s not often that we get to say ‘do try this at home.’”

National DNA Day, which occurs each year on April 25, honors the completion of the Human Genome Project, an international study that identified all of the genes that make up human DNA.

Several UB faculty were involved in the project, including Norma Nowak, PhD, professor of biochemistry, GEM co-director and founder of Empire Genomics.

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