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Advanced Molecular Biology Techniques Laboratory
A Research-Integrated Approach using Drosophila melanogaster
An NSF-DUE CCLI-funded Project
Sponsored by Hofstra Univeristy, Hempstead, NY
This advanced molecular biology laboratory course, which uses a project approach to learning and incorporates an independent research component, was designed to enhance the preparation of students for careers in research, biotechnology and science education and to increase knowledge retention and integration of concepts among upper level biology majors. The students use enhancer trap techniques in Drosophila melanogaster to work on two related projects in a single semester. One project has been carefully worked out to proceed through a set of experiments that take the students from a behavior mutant (flightless), to a cloned and sequenced gene (gene for muscle myosin heavy chain protein), and finally to a study of the protein. This part of the laboratory experience exposes the students to a wide array of molecular biology methodologies and instrumentation commonly used in biotechnology and molecular biology laboratories and demonstrates the logical progression of a research project. The research project starts with mutants which are already available but for which the mutated gene has not yet been discovered. The students will use the techniques that they have learned to clone and sequence the gene and to begin to study the protein. The integration of a research component into this laboratory course will increase students' mastery of the principles of scientific inquiry and their ability to draw on their accumulated knowledge to solve research problems. This course will give students who plan career in research or biotechnology practical experience that mimics the realities of the laboratory setting. It will provide students who are planning careers in education with the background necessary to bring modern technology and inquiry-based learning into the classroom.
A more basic molecular biology course designed for less advanced students and for pre-service and in-service high school teachers without a strong background in molecular genetics can be found at the accompanying Web Site http://people.hofstra.edu/faculty/beverly_clendening/basicmolbio. A course description for the advanced course and the basic course can be found in the Introduction.