Biotech Lab Makes Room for New Researchers
Recently Dedicated Facility Gives Budding Scientists a Place to Train and Prepare
Sparkling new equipment greeted UT Dallas dignitaries at the recent unveiling of the Biotechnology Research Training Lab.
Dedicated to bench training for up-and-coming biotechnology scientists, the facility was repurposed from a chemistry lab into its present, modern and functional form meant for the hands-on training needed to earn master’s degrees in biotechnology.
“It takes creativity, insight, and resources to move into new directions with respect to research,” said Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, executive vice president and provost at UT Dallas.
The lab’s layout encourages researchers to work across their disciplines and specialties. It fulfills a growing need to train scientists in laboratory techniques and safety and to help scientists specialize their skills for the rapidly expanding field of biotechnology – an evolving discipline that merges genetics, medicine, technology and business.
“The facility marks a new beginning for biotechnology at UT Dallas. We know that people from all kinds of background have a need to understand things scientifically, and this lab helps lay the groundwork and build the skills necessary to advance our field,” said Dr. Li Zhang, professor and head of the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology.
The new lab will be in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Located on the ground floor of the Berkner building, the roughly 1,300-sq. ft. facility comes equipped with side rooms and functional areas housing high-end research equipment. Students are trained to conduct biotechnology research using the lab’s compliment of equipment, which includes:
- A Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) Machine—for sorting and analyzing cells.
- A Gel Logic 200 Imaging machine—a UV light technology that takes pictures of DNA.
- Tissue culture hoods—biological safety cabinets that use airflow to contain or keep out contaminants.
- An incubator—for growing and protecting tissue samples, and more.
The lab didn’t linger unoccupied long after its unveiling. Days later, students from the Summer Institute Program to Increase Diversity, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, filed in for their first look at the new facility and a chance do some hands-on science.
“Anyone who needs hands-on bench facilities for training can use this dedicated space – it’s not connected to an investigator but is equipped to allow training in basic bench research approaches. This lab represents cutting-edge thinking about training young scientists from elementary school to graduate school,” said Dr. Betty Pace, professor and director of the Sickle Cell Disease Research Center at UT Dallas.