BSC Office of Communications

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August 26, 2004

Birmingham-Southern College receives grant to purchase DNA sequencer

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.— Birmingham-Southern College is receiving a $28,500 award from the LI-COR Genomics Education Matching Fund Program to enhance undergraduate education in genomics by helping fund the purchase of DNA sequencing equipment and software.

According to Dr. Pamela Hanson, BSC assistant professor of biology and coordinator of the grant, the DNA sequencer is a sophisticated piece of equipment that allows scientists to determine the specific sequence of a particular stretch of DNA.

“A common analogy used to explain this is that the genetic information found in every cell is recorded with a simple four letter alphabet (A,T,G,C). The human genome or chromosome set is approximately 3.2 billion base pairs (letters) long. Alterations in the sequence of A's, T's, G's, and C's found in a genome can mean the difference between good health and a genetic disorder,” Hanson explained.

According to Hanson, in the last decade, many entire genomes have been sequenced, including those of baker's yeast, fruit flies, mice, and humans.

“This extensive sequencing of genomes has ushered in the era of genomics and with the grant, our students will now be able to take part in the revolution. The DNA sequencer we will purchase will be used when students are cloning genes and studying mutations that change the function of a gene.

“However, the impact of genomics (and DNA sequencing) does not stop there. Fields as disparate as ecology and forensics have been impacted by this technology. For example, DNA sequencing can be used to identify bacteria, to characterize newly discovered species of plants, and to analyze DNA found at a crime scene,” she said.


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