DNA Learning Center dedication highlights community outreach

Author: Gene Stowe

Fr. Foster says a blessing at the DNA Learning Center dedicatio

The Notre Dame DNA Learning Center, a partnership with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, was dedicated on Sept. 28. The center, located in the Jordan Hall of Science, will accelerate outreach in the field of genetics education to local K-12 schools and the community. Students from local schools and the Robinson Community Learning Center displayed “double helix art” at the event.

The Notre Dame center will offer workshops and other resources for educators, weeklong summer camps for high school students, and laboratory field trips for students in grades 5-12, as well as DNA workshops open to the community.

 “The thing we’ve always been good at in this country is coming up with ideas and innovating,” Dave Micklos, executive director of the Cold Spring Harbor DNA Learning Center, told dedication participants. “That’s what basic science does.  “It takes a lot of great minds to do well in science and to innovate in science. We’re part of that effort to move basic science forward. It also takes collaboration. The students in the schools and in the community will be the benefactors of this.”

Dr. and Mrs. Passarelli with Dean Greg Crawford

The partnership with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory provides access to technology, teaching methods and proprietary resources such as DNA learning kits. “Biology students will staff the lab and increase their understanding of genetics and genomics,” said Gary Lamberti, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences.

Notre Dame has collaborated with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for five years, beginning when an undergraduate researcher spent a summer at the laboratory on Long Island. A gift from Notre Dame Science Advisory Council member Dr. John Passarelli and his wife Heidi supports the Notre Dame DNA Learning Center. “The synergy here between innovation, research and outreach will have an impact on the community,” Dr. Passarelli said.