Med program offers opportunity

Biomedical students conduct several hands-on experiments

Junior Valentina Tovar works on an experiment in her Medical Intervention class. The biomedical program was started 2 years ago.

Nicolas Sokolowski

Junior Valentina Tovar works on an experiment in her Medical Intervention class. The biomedical program was started 2 years ago.

A micro-centrifuge, some TBE butter, and an electrophoresis chamber might sound like crazy made up words, but they were all used in a recent experiment conducted in the third year Biomedical class.

The experiment involved the students testing their own genes to see if they could taste a certain chemical called phenylthiocarbamide (PTC).

The DNA experiment was just one of many hands-on experiments that bio medical students have conducted this year to prepare for a career in laboratory medicine.

This year marked only the second year of the biomedical program at Akins, but strong student interest allowed them to take the third course in the sequence a year earlier than normal.

“I think the best part about the DNA testing experiment will be when I get to see what my DNA is like compared to others and to get a closer and more in-depth look at everything,” first year biomedical student Julia Jackola said.

In the DNA experiment the first step was to isolate the gene TAS2R38. Then the students copied the TAS2R38 gene, multiple times. Next, they used an enzyme called HaeIII, to cut the DNA at a certain spot in the gene copies. Finally, they used gel electrophoresis to separate DNA fragments and to analyze their results.

“The best part about this experiment was after we did the gel electrophoresis we were actually able to see the strands of our own DNA,” junior Valentina Tovar said.

The biomedical program is one of the latest Career and Technology Department programs to be established at Akins. It gives students a chance to learn the skills needed to conduct medical tests, one of them being dissection.

“A student of mine, Evelin Costuros, slaughtered 2 cows to get the hearts and lungs from them,” biomedical teacher Bailey Williams said.
First the students learned about all the parts of the heart before the dissection. They labeled all of the anatomy on paper and also the flow of blood. After learning all of the details they were ready to dissect.

“Evelin brought the two cow hearts so that a couple of my biomedical classes could dissect the fresh ones instead of the ugly brown preserved hearts,” said Williams.

During the dissection, they cut open different parts of the heart and examined them.
Next year they will be able to dissect a cow eyeball, kidney, and get to examine some cow joints and bones in their 2nd year of biomed.

Williams is working to improve the program more by applying for a Project Lead the Way certification. This will allow the students to receive transcripted credit from 11 universities across the country.

“I know this is going to help tremendously when I get older because I want to be a clinical geneticist, which is basically someone who studies DNA and tells them what genetic disorders their kid could have before they’re born.” Jackola said.