Genetics & Clinical Trials
Three-Week Summer Medicine Programs
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Genetics & Clinical Trials is a 3-week course in which students are exposed to research and questions while performing hands-on laboratory experiments designed to reflect a graduate school experience.
Our instructor, Dr. Vince Coljee, is a Harvard scholar and the first person to clone and sequence two human genes. Dr. Coljee began 2019’s program with a deep dive into the nature of DNA, where students began the exciting process of isolating their own DNA using a PCR machine. Taking advantage of our proximity to some of the top labs in the world, students then visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History, engaging in an ancestry scavenger hunt and a Q&A lunch and lab tour with Patrick Dennett, a Harvard Bauer Core Laboratory scientist.
Class proceeded with a a dive into the science of ancestry, exploring the concept of preferential inheritance and genetic evolution. Dr. Coljee then explored the mechanics of current clinical trials – how do we attain usable data and discover life changing breakthroughs? Following up on this, students researched and presented their findings on the advent of vaccines, antibiotics, and other medical triumphs. As the program wrapped up, students had the opportunity to design their own mock clinical trials on subjects of their choosing, presenting their research to the class. As a bonus, Dr. Coljee had the students amplify their own DNA, sending it off to be sequenced so each student could receive his or her own genetic reading.
This Program Sold Out Last Summer
Students will learn about human evolution and what role our genes have played in our development as a species. They will learn about the FDA’s job in ensuring that the medicines that come to market are safe. In addition, students will read pivotal papers in biology and the new field of personalized medicine that have defined modern science, and will interpret and present their findings.
The lab component allows teens to do their own genetic testing: they will extract their own DNA, amplify it using PCR, and sequence it, allowing them to analyze mutations specific to them and their family and perhaps trace back part of their heritage. Lastly, students will use this background knowledge to read scientific papers and design and present their own clinical trials.
This is a competitive admissions summer research program designed for teens.
In past years, students attending the Biomedical Research: Genetics & Clinical Trials summer program have visited New England Biolabs where they used research tools such as REBASE, InBASE, and Polbase, The Broad Institute where they saw cutting-edge biotechnology, & The Harvard Museum where they examined the fossil, anatomical, and genetic evidence available there.
Vince Coljee, PhD
Vince Coljee is a scientist with a diverse background spanning biophysics and chemistry to various sub-disciplines of biology and therapeutics. Vince worked in the biotech industry developing a new concept in biotherapeutics, human recombinant polyclonal antibodies, based on a very old idea, transferring immunity of those who are immune, to those who require that immunity but in a more concentrated, consistent and effective manner. Vince pioneered this novel technology at Symphogen A/S in Denmark from 2000 to 2005 and then expanded on the technology at Excelimmune, Inc., a company he founded and was the Chief Scientific officer of from 2006 to December 2012. He also serves as an NIH grant reviewer. Vince in collaboration with Mara Prentiss at Harvard University in 1999, helped develop a biophysics program studying DNA and DNA-protein interactions. In 2005, Vince became a visiting scholar at Harvard University and a Harvard staff member in the Physics Department.
‘The teachers were amazing. They allowed us to do most things for ourselves and when we messed up we redid it. Really the best course I ever had.’
‘I loved Dr. Coljee’s teaching style! He has so much knowledge that he shared with us. Doing presentations with others helped me not only learn, but make friends with others.’
‘Vince was great throughout the course and really opened my eyes into the world of genetic science and the practicality of science and being a scientist. It was always thrilling to see our results after gel electrophoresis.’
‘This program was absolutely incredible! I really enjoyed the entire lab experience and getting to work with our very own DNA. The program was always interesting, Dr. Coljee constantly kept us on our feet. I’ve honestly learned so much during this program and it was an outstanding experience. I’m really going to miss it!’
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