The new lab on wheels offers state-of-the-art laboratory facilities as well as communications equipment that provides online access to video conferencing, bioinformatics databases, and other resources for students and teachers.
MdBioLab, which can accommodate entire classes of up to 32 students at once, is designed to enhance bioscience curricula for students and teachers during its week-long stays at high schools throughout Maryland, from rural areas to inner cities. The non-profit program is expected to reach as many as 20,000 students and hundreds of science teachers a year.
The new 18-wheel mobile laboratory was developed by a partnership of MdBio Inc., a private not-for-profit organization, with two cutting-edge research centers: The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), a not-for-profit research institute, and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI). Donations from Fisher Scientific International Inc. and The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health provided all of the laboratory equipment.
"Rapid advances in science and technology demand educational programs like MdBioLab that are responsive and accessible," says UMBI President Jennie C. Hunter-Cevera, a microbiologist. TIGR's President, genome biologist Claire M. Fraser, says the mobile lab will benefit both students and teachers "by sparking their interest in bioscience and by exposing them to cutting-edge technology." C. Robert Eaton, the President of MdBio, Inc., says "we expect MdBioLab to yield great benefits across the board" by inspiring some students to choose a career in bioscience and giving others "a basic understanding of the promises and limitations of biotechnology."