Ribbon Is Cut on Harlem DNA Lab, Bringing 21st-Century Molecular Biology to NYC Public School Kids and Their Teachers

Hands-on approach designed by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientists will prepare kids for life and careers in “the genome age”

Harlem, New York -- New Yorkers today celebrated the opening of the Harlem DNA Lab, a state-of-the-art education facility that will provide students and teachers throughout the five boroughs with a program of laboratory-based study designed to bring the curriculum fully into “the genome age.”  

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory President Bruce Stillman, New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel I. Klein and community leaders got a glimpse of the cell biology and DNA experiments that will be experienced by approximately 4,000 middle and high school students who will visit the Harlem DNA Lab each school year.

“I am thrilled our students and teachers now have access to the world’s leading biotechnology at the Harlem DNA Lab,” Chancellor Klein said. “I want to thank the Dolan DNA Learning Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for bringing this wonderful resource to our city’s public school students.”

Adam Clayton Powell, the New York State Assemblyman and Peter Bruns, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Vice President for Grants and Special Programs, joined Chancellor Klein and Dr. Stillman in praising the new facility for the expanded educational opportunities it will offer New York City students and teachers.

Bringing Our Young People Fully into ‘The Genome Age’

Over the next five years, more than 800 New York City middle and high school science teachers will receive professional development at the Harlem DNA Lab.  Programs at the Lab will allow them to deliver hands-on, inquiry-based genetic and biotechnology lessons in their schools across the City.

The state-of-the-art genome lab, which was built within the John S. Roberts Education Complex in East Harlem, is the result of collaboration between the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the Dolan DNA Learning Center, part of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), one of the world’s leading private, non-profit biomedical research and education institutions.

“The Harlem DNA Lab builds upon and extends what we have learned over the last two decades at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Dolan DNA Learning Center,” said Dr. Stillman, CSHL’s president and a world-renowned investigator of the genomics of cancer.  “This year, in fact, marks the 20th anniversary of the Center’s founding on Long Island, as the first institution in the United States dedicated to public genetics education.”

“This great new initiative symbolizes the City’s wise acknowledgement that we live in an age that is being significantly transformed by the science of the genome. Teaching our children -- and the teachers who instruct them -- about contemporary biology is not a luxury for the wealthiest school districts, but should be regarded as a must for our young people who will be entering the workforce in the next decade,” Dr. Stillman added.  

The collaborative initiative includes not only the public school system of one of the largest public school systems in the country, but the generous support of private philanthropy, including a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Importance of ‘Teaching the Teachers’

“This exciting new program combines years of highly successful experience, well proven techniques and materials, and the advice and counsel of local teachers and administrators.  It’s a visionary program that will ‘teach the teachers,’ and bring labs to classrooms that might otherwise not have had them,” said Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Peter Bruns.

“While other institutions are doing aspects of this, few if any have created an effort that combines the scientific expertise of a world-class research institution with the well-honed experience of master teachers.  Importantly, we’ve been able to deploy this excellent concept in a new facility located right in the middle of the targeted school system. We’re confident the program will have a major and lasting impact on public education in New York and that it will serve as a model for the rest of the nation.”

How the Program Will Work

The Harlem DNA Lab is a city-wide resource, thanks to contributions from The Dana Foundation, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, The Goldman Sachs Foundation, and William Townsend Porter Foundation.  The Lab will teach students and educators using techniques and tools currently used by research scientists on the forefront of genome study. Middle and high school students visiting the lab on half-day fieldtrips will participate in programs and lab activities designed to complement the scope and sequence of the New York City and State science curricula, and will fully conform with National Science Education Standards and Living Environment, and Advanced Placement biology coursework.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) is a private, not-for-profit research and education institution at the forefront of efforts in molecular biology and genetics to generate knowledge that will yield better diagnostics and treatments for cancer, neurological diseases and other major causes of human suffering.  

Visit http://www.dnalc.org/ for more information about CSHL’s Dolan DNA Learning and the Harlem DNA Lab

For more information, visit www.cshl.edu.