$1.3M lab grant boosts education

BAR HARBOR — A Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institutes of Health totaling $1.3 million will support five years of funding for Teaching the Genome Generation, The Jackson Laboratory’s innovative teacher professional development program designed to enhance genetics instruction in high school classrooms.

Launched in 2014, Teaching the Genome Generation celebrates the genetic diversity in the human species, highlighting both infinite variations and complexity unique to each human being. The program provides hands-on training for high school science teachers, helping them to bring greater understanding of the basics of genomics to their students.

The Jackson Laboratory will provide lab equipment, reagents and supplies to enable teachers and their students to conduct genetics experiments, collect and analyze real data and discuss the ethical complexities of personal access to genetic information. To date, the pilot program has trained 47 teachers and 1,200 students, including all New England states. With the new grant, Teaching the Genome Generation is expected to reach up to 3,000 students each year between 2016 and 2021.

“As genetics and genomics take on a greater role in medicine,” said Charles Wray, director of Jackson Laboratory courses and conferences, “we need to prepare young people to be knowledgeable health care consumers and to prepare them for careers in this growing field. We believe our ‘teach the teachers’ approach is the most efficient and effective way to improve the quality of genetics education.”

Teaching the Genome Generation will be presented July 11 to 15 at the laboratory’s headquarters campus in Bar Harbor. This course and one in Connecticut are fully subscribed for this year.

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and Jane’s Trust also have provided support for Teaching the Genome Generation.

The Jackson Laboratory offers educational programs for scientists throughout their careers – from STEM education for high school students and training for science teachers to courses and conferences for experienced researchers defining the cutting edge of genomics research and specialized training for physicians interested in incorporating genetics and genomics into their practices.

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