What participants should bring:
Laptop for use during the institute
Agenda (subject to change):
AM: Robert Dennison
Overview of the Week
Introduction to miniPCR and Personal DNA testing in the classroom, with Sebastian Kraves
For decades, the tools of biotechnology and DNA analysis have been difficult to implement in classrooms and other settings outside of high-end biomedical labs. Sebastian Kraves and the team at miniPCR are working to put DNA technology in the hands of more people. From improving vaccines to modifying crops to solving crimes, DNA technology has transformed our world. Sebastian will share the story of miniPCR and its real-world applications, from combating Ebola in Sierra Leone to enabling genomics research aboard the International Space Station.
PM: Sebastian Kraves, PhD: Using PCR to Identify and Test Circadian Rhythm Genes in Your Students
Are you a night owl? A morning lark? The answer may be in your genes...
In this lab we will study the genetic control of circadian rhythms by looking at your own DNA. Circadian clocks are endogenous oscillators that control rhythms in physiology and behavior with 24-hour rhythmicity. This lab allows students to test their own circadian genes and investigate a possible link to their sleep phenotype. We will use PCR to amplify a VNTR in the per3 gene that has been associated with sleep behavior. Individuals who have 4 copies of this repeat have been found to have a preference for evening activity, while people with 5 copies of this repeat seem to prefer morning activities. Using gel electrophoresis students can read their own genetic variant, and our collective data may help elucidate this possible association between per3 genotypes and sleep phenotypes, in an authentic open inquiry investigation.
Wednesday: All Day with Ann Brokaw
Evidence and Explanation: Implementing the Science Practices to
Enhance AP Biology Ecology Content
The redesigned AP Biology Curriculum Framework emphasizes the integration of seven Science Practices with the Learning Objectives found within each of the four Big Ideas. Each learning objective combines biological content with inquiry and reasoning skills found within the science practices. Throughout our day, we will work through several classroom resources related to Ecology that focus on data literacy, evidence-based claims, and scientific reasoning. The classroom-ready resources and implementation strategies modeled in this workshop will challenge and strengthen your students’ application of content, reasoning, and data literacy.
8:00 – 10:00 AM: Matthew Bennett, PhD. Rice University
Synthetic Biology: Is it possible to engineer life?
Synthetic biology is the emerging discipline of building biological systems from the ground up. By manipulating the genetic code of organisms, synthetic biologists are able to reprogram cells to perform novel functions. But just how is this done and what can genetically engineered organisms do? In this talk, I will discuss the ins and outs of this highly interdisciplinary field: including its humble origins, its current practice, and its future promise.
10:00 – 11:30 AM: Christian Schaaf, MD/PhD, Baylor College of Medicine
Genome-wide approaches to intellectual disability and autism
Genome-wide sequencing technology has radically changed our approach to neurodevelopmental disorders, such as intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. It has provided research opportunities, leading to the identification of hundreds of genes, which, when altered, can predispose to the respective neurological conditions. Now, genome-wide diagnostic tests are making their way into actual clinical care. This comes with hopes, opportunities, challenges, and ethical considerations.
PM: Scott Solomon, PhD, Rice University
What is the future of human evolution?
Dr. Solomon will review what is known about our evolutionary past, examine the ways in which we are continuing to evolve and consider our future as a species. The presentation will draw on research from fields as diverse as genetics, demography, psychology, microbiology and medicine. Participants will examine questions such as how existing technology and modern medicine affect natural selection and consider how future developments, including germline gene editing and space colonization, may affect the ultimate fate of Homo sapiens.
AM: Jeff Tabor, PhD, Rice University
Engineering Gut Bacteria To Sense Diseases
We are engineering bacterial two-component systems, the largest and most diverse family of genetically-encoded sensors, to detect chemical biomarkers of inflammation in the body, and report the disease by production of a visible pigment. We aim to use this technology as a home diagnostic to improve early detection of inflammation flare-ups while reducing unnecessary, expensive and highly invasive endoscopy procedures. To improve the reliability of sensing, we are developing a handful of novel two-component system engineering technologies that will be the focus of the talk.
PM: Wrapping up the week: A discussion of how to bring the week’s topics back to the AP Biology classroom.
Robert Dennison, lead consultant.