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Extract strawberry DNA, enjoy science-themed cocktails for National DNA Day

Those attending DNA Cocktails with Coalesce will be able to extract DNA from strawberries, which later will become part of various science-themed cocktails.

By MARCENE ROBINSON

Published April 6, 2017

“This is our adult version of Genome Day.”
Jennifer Surtees, co-director
UB Community of Excellence in Genome, Environment and Microbiome

Science and cocktails will come together for one savory evening during UB’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 later will become a part of various themed beverages.

DNA Cocktails with Coalesce will take place at 6 p.m. April 27 in the Coalesce Center for Biological Art, 308 Hochstetter Hall, 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 also will be provided.

Registration is limited to the first 40 guests.

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,” says Jennifer Surtees, GEM co-director and associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. “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 de-mystify what goes on in a lab.”

Adds Paul Vanouse, professor of art and director of the Coalesce Center for Biological Art: “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 takes place 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, professor of biochemistry, GEM co-director and founder of Empire Genomics.