On July 27, labs from the Duke University Regeneration Next initiative hosted 33 participants from Young Women In Bio RTP. The Regeneration Next Initiative brings together researchers from across Duke’s campus that focus on regeneration research for basic science, engineering, and clinical applications. Many of the labs study regeneration in different model organisms. In each lab, the girls learned how different model organisms can be used to gain insight into human disease and biological function. The girls were able to visit five different labs during their visit, including the Sherwood, Fox, Poss, Capel, and Bursac labs.
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The Sherwood lab uses the model organism C.elegans, a type of nematode, in their research to study cancer and tissue remodeling as well as stem cell interactions. When visiting the Sherwood Lab, the girls were given a brief lesson on C.elegan biology by Dr.Sherwood and then had the opportunity to look at C.elegans under the microscope. The girls learned how green fluorescent protein (GFP) can be used in imaging as a marker for specific cell types or a reporter for gene expression.
The Fox lab studies Drosophila (fruit flies) to understand tissue repair mechanisms. The girls got hands-on experience looking at Drosophila under the microscope and describing the physical features they saw. The girls began by differentiating between female and male flies. The tip of male flies is dark and rounded while females have a light-colored, pointed tip. After, they moved on to find flies exhibiting other common physical traits. Next, the girls were challenged to use Mendelian genetics to find flies to mate that would result in specific genetic traits. This activity helped the girls learn how traits are inherited from one generation to the next.
The Poss lab uses zebrafish to study morphogenesis and injury-induced regeneration of several tissues. In the Poss lab, the girls were able to observe Zebrafish in their tank and compared the physical differences between the fish. They learned how Zebrafish can be genetically manipulated to study different biological functions. The girls were also able to use a microscope to look at Zebrafish under the microscope, looking specifically at heart function.
The Capel Lab studies turtles and mice to understand sex determination and organogenesis as well as cell differentiation. The girls were able to look at turtle embryos that were recovered from eggs at different stages of development and began to understand what causes turtles to be male or female. They also looked at organ tissue at different stages of development under the microscope. The graduate students from this lab also provided a great overview of what it means to be a female scientist!
The Bursac lab studies cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue engineering therapies as well as the differentiation of stem cells into striated muscle cells. The girls were provided an overview of how the heart works and what can be done to repair damage to the heart. The graduate students shared how they are trying to develop a cellular-based patch that can be put on damaged areas of the heart to restart cell growth in damaged areas. The girls were able to look at cardiac cells the lab had grown by differentiating stem cells. The girls really enjoyed observing the cells beat like a real heart!
We would like to thank all of the labs for taking time out of their schedules to plan and host very informative tours of their labs. Special thanks to Amy Dickson for helping planning this event and recruiting labs to join the event.