Silas Gonzalez ‘24
In spirit of this year’s MCE theme of change, members of the Saint Francis DeSales Honors program visited the Regeneron Lab in Sleepy Hollow, New York. With two separate experiments, the “Detecting a Jumping Gene” lab, and the “Forensic DNA Profiling” lab, students were able to fully experience the evolution of scientific technology.
“Detecting A Jumping Gene” Lab
The “Detecting A Jumping Gene” experiment examined a region of DNA from chromosome 16 that involves a segment of nucleotide sequence called Alu within the noncoding region of the chromosome. Students prepared samples of their own DNA from cells collected from saline mouthwash. Next, they used the PCR machine to target the cell’s locus, with agarose gel electrophoresis to evaluate the presence (or absence) of the Alu.
Chandon Chansrisuriyawong, a junior member of the DeSales program and participant of this lab, shared his thoughts on the experiment. “I thought it was pretty cool actually, the way we found out our genes and the process we took was clear,” he said. “I learned a lot about genes and ancestry, which piqued my interest.”
Class data discovered the Alu resided in the chromosome tens of thousands of years ago. With the full results, students explored allele frequencies and population genetics, later identifying related schoolmates.
“Forensic DNA Profiling” Lab
In the “Forensic DNA Profiling” lab, students also examined a sample of their DNA. However, this lab prioritizes D1S80, a highly variable tandem repeat polymorphism on chromosomes. The FBI utilizes this tandem to create genetic profiles. Using the PCR, the DNA chip allows students to identify their genotype, which is impossible with the agarose gel electrophoresis.
“The process was remarkable, it was interesting to learn about our genotypes and who we are,” said Charles Szeliga, a junior and participant of the forensic lab. “I appreciate how routine and organized everything there was. It was a pinpoint plan, and the researchers at the lab were prepared.” – To witness the evolution of forensic science first hand was an exciting experience for all of the attendees.