Neil Lamb joined HudsonAlpha in 2007 and serves as director of educational outreach. He received his Ph.D. from Emory University, where he was a faculty member in the department of human genetics. Dr. Lamb coordinates
outreach programs for school-age children, educators and the public.
The educational outreach program is divided into several clusters, based around the audience or the type of activity:
• Hands-On Classroom Activities – The team recently developed a 2-week genetics and biotechnology module aimed at 7th grade students in Alabama, using a family case study for hemochromatosis to explore basic genetics concepts. Two additional middle school activities have been created using ChromoSocksTM, socks specially woven in Northeast Alabama that represent pairs of homologous chromosomes. More than 10,000 students will use these materials each year.
• Teacher Training Opportunities – The team trains more than two dozen high school biology teachers for HudsonAlpha’s Genetic Technologies in Alabama Classrooms (GTAC) each summer. These edcuators spend 2 weeks focused on the genetic components of their 9th grade biology classes. The team also produces an annual Biotechnology Guidebook, mailed to every high school in Alabama, an easy to read overview of new findings in the fields of genetics and biotechnology and their connection to high school life science courses.
• Student Experiences – For the summer 2012 intern program called BioTrain, more than 325 applications were received for 35 slots. HudsonAlpha also partners with a number of local researchers and educators to develop a series of laboratory activities that support AP Biology classes, called APPLE. In October 2011 the team published a description of the APPLE program and its benefits in The American Biology Teacher.
• Digital Activities – In October 2011, the team released an updated version of our popular iCell® app for Apple and Android phones and tablets. In 2012, they released GenomeCacheTM, another free app. This app and its accompanying website allow teachers to craft a “Genome Walk”. Another online activity, “Touching TritonTM”, funded by $1.1M NIH-sponsored Science Education Partnership Award, explores the risk factors associated with complex disease in the context of a twenty-year mission to a distant moon.
• Public Activities – To date, more than 900 individuals have enrolled in the popular evening seminar series “Biotech101” covering the basics of genetics and biotechnology. In 2012, Dr. Lamb and his team published a first assessment of the impact of the Biotech101 program, comparing participant’s self-perceived knowledge before and after the 5-week series.
Selected recent publications
Johnson, N. A., Coram, M. A., Shriver, M. D., Romieu, I., Barsh, G. S., London, S. J., and Tang, H. (2011). Ancestral components of admixed genomes in a Mexican cohort. PLoS Genet. 7: e1002410
Hong, L. Z., Li, J., Schmidt-Kuntzel, A., Warren, W. C., and Barsh, G. S. Digital gene expression for non-model organisms. Genome Res. 11: 1905-1915.
McGowan, K. A., Pang, W. W., Bhardwaj, R., Perez, M. G., Pluvinage, J. V., Glader, B. E., Malek, R., Mendrysa, S. M., Weissman, I. L., Park, C. Y., and Barsh, G. S. (2011). Reduced ribosomal protein gene dosage and p53 activation in low-risk myelodysplastic syndrome. Blood. 118: 3622–3633.
McGowan, K. A., Li, J. Z., Beaudry, V., Tabor, H. K., Sabins, A. J., Zhang, H., Fuchs, H. de Angelis, M. H., Myers, R. M., Attardi, L. D., and Barsh, G. S. (2008). Ribosomal mutations cause p53-mediated dark skin and pleiotropic effects. Nat. Genet. 40: 963–970 (2008).