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Capital Region Teachers Take Advantage of Biotechnology Workshop Hosted by Hudson Valley Community College Photos Available

CONTACT: Eric Bryant (518) 629-8072,
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011

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Nineteen high school science teachers from around the Capital District participated in a two-day biotechnology training sponsored by Hudson Valley Community College on Jan. 26-27 at Averill Park High School.

The training focused on learning how to utilize PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) technology in high school biology labs. PCR is a procedure that was invented in 1983 by Kary Mullis, who received the Nobel Prize in 1992 for the invention. The procedure allows scientists to take a small amount of DNA and amplify it into larger amounts that can be utilized for forensic investigations or medical and biological research.

Each of the teachers involved in the workshop had the opportunity to complete three biotechnology / PCR labs. The first lab enabled teachers to simulate DNA profiling as it is commonly used in forensic labs by crime scene investigators. The second lab provided teachers the opportunity to extract DNA from either their own cheek cells or hair follicles, use PCR amplification, and then electrophoresis (a technique which uses an electric current to separate DNA by size) to fingerprint their own DNA at a specific chromosomal location. In the third lab, teachers were able to test their favorite foods to see if they had been genetically modified.

By successfully completing this training, each teacher is now eligible to borrow a set of PCR equipment, valued at $7,000, and two lab kits from Hudson Valley Community College. The kits will allow them to complete similar experiments with their high school AP biology and forensics students. The college has received a $3.4 million biotechnology grant from the federal Department of Labor to upgrade its biotechnology equipment and provide training. Part of this grant provides for outreach to area teachers. Hudson Valley Community College plans to offer a similar training this summer.

Hudson Valley Community College offers both a two-year Biotechnology A.S. degree as well as a one-year advanced certificate program, both created in response to the growing need for medical and biological laboratory technicians in research and industry. Those in the degree program are offered a strong, overall background in the sciences, including biology, chemistry and mathematics. Grounded in basic science and liberal arts, along with laboratory experience in standard biotechnological techniques, the program will prepare students to enter the job market directly or transfer to a variety of four-year programs. The certificate program is designed to suit a student who already has a strong background in science and math and is looking for a career in biotechnology.

Founded in 1953, Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 70 degree and certificate programs in four schools: Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Science; and Liberal Arts and Sciences; and an Educational Opportunity Center for academic and career training. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 13,000 students, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and workforce training. Hudson Valley has more than 65,000 alumni.