Promise To Kate Day of Discovery 2017

On Friday, June 9, 2017, Promise to Kate held its first “Day of Discovery” at the University of Florida Center for NeuroGenetics (CNG). The PTK Junior Board offered a field-trip to high school students to travel to the CNG to learn about the exciting research going on and the many opportunities in the medical research field. They received a great response and filled all 50 slots that were open for the event.

Students and chaperones were chartered from Jacksonville to Gainesville and upon arrival were given a quick introduction to the research team at the CNG and then the participants were divided into groups for interactive tours in the various labs in the CNG.  Each group visited four scientific research stations.

The first station gave an explanation as to how fruit flies are used to study human disease and the groups were able to view flies under a microscope to view some of the distinct features of the fruit fly that are used for research.  Second was an interactive station where the students were able to isolate genomic DNA from strawberries using a similar protocol to what is used for DNA isolation in the lab for research.  The third station provided the group with an introduction as to how cell culture models are used in research and some of the different tools used in research, including various microscopes such as a phase contrast, bight-field microscopes and a fluorescence confocal microscope.  The last station was also interactive with each participant learning how to load an agarose gel and why gel electrophoresis is important to research.  The stations were a lot of fun for both the organizers and the students and the students lover the hands on activities.

After all groups toured the stations, lunch was served and presentations were given by two of the CNG lead researchers, Drs. Andy Berglund and Eric Wang.  This discussion focused on how they each got involved in their respective research fields, the opportunities that are available in research, some information on the difference between basic/bench research vs. clinical research, industry vs. academic jobs, and how research is funded. Following their presentations, a panel of members of the Center for NeuroGenetics was available to answer questions regarding career paths and the various opportunities for education in Science.

The day ended with a tour of the ShandsCair heliport.  Students met members of this critical care transport team and got an up close look at one of their helicopters.

We were so excited to partner with Promise To Kate for this event and we hope it gave the upcoming generation of students a unique experience and a little insight to our world of research.

A special thank you to The Root Family Foundation for funding this event with Promise to Kate.  We at the CNG are hoping to continue this partnership in the years to come and hold this event on an annual basis.  If you or someone you know would be interested in attending this event, please contact Promise To Kate and let them know.