Students extract own DNA

Students extract own DNA

Stephen King, Writer

Students in John Schocken’s Medical Interventions class had a lab where they extracted their DNA from the cells of their cheeks to learn more about themselves.

“I think it’s great,” Schocken said. “I think it’s one of the best labs we had all semester. Students like it because they get to find out genetic information about themselves and it uses a whole bunch of really great biotechnology equipment that we have that is all brand new this year.”

Once the students removed some of their cheek cells, they cut them and gained the DNA within, then they performed PCR, or Polymerase Chain Reaction, which amplified a segment of their DNA, making multiple copies. Then they figured out whether they had dominant or recessive alleles by genotyping themselves.

“I think it’s really cool,” Junior Emily Davis said. “We’re looking at our own genotype and it’s not an online lab.”

The lab went on for three class periods. The first class was entirely DNA extraction and PCR.

“I think it’s pretty fun,” Junior Matthew Cao said. “It’s really interesting because we’ve never done this before.”

The second was spent using a restriction enzyme to cut the DNA because only some alleles can be cut, and then

“I’ve never done this before in any other class,” Senior Sanjana Mohanty said.

Finally in the third, students performed electrophoresis where they separated the DNA by size. By looking at how many they had and the different sizes, students would know if they were homozygous dominant, homozygous recessive, or heterozygous.

“My favorite part is determining our genotypes and our phenotypes for the PTC chemical,” Junior Mary Katharine Jolly said. “It’s a lab that I’ve never got to do before, so it’s nice to experience something new to prepare us for labs in college.”