Seventh- and eighth-grade students from the Buffalo Public Schools marked Genome Day by taking part in several unusual hands-on activities today at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University at Buffalo (UB) New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS).
The event was part of Science Week in the City of Buffalo, designed to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and STEM-related career opportunities. More than 400 Buffalo Public School students participated in the day to learn about genomics and bioinformatics through several projects. Guided by graduate students and postdoctorates from Roswell Park and UB, they learned to identify a disease by spotting abnormalities in a karyotype — a picture of a person’s chromosomes; extracted their own DNA and captured it in a bottle necklace to take home; and made an origami model of the DNA helix.
The students began the day by hearing about STEM career opportunities from Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Donald Ogilvie, SUNY Provost Dr. Alexander Cartwright, and UB Provost Dr. Charles Zukoski. They also learned about how genomics will revolutionize healthcare and create new companies from Dr. Norma Nowak, executive director of the CBLS and Founder of Empire Genomics, and Dr. Candace Johnson, President and CEO of Roswell Park, whose Center for Personalized Medicine recently launched a new genomics company, OmniSeq. The event was made possible through a partnership between Roswell Park, UB, Buffalo State College, Erie Community College, SUNY, the City of Buffalo, and Buffalo Public Schools.
Deb Pettibone, Public Information Specialist