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Local students gain hands-on experience and laboratory education at bioscience incubator

By October 30, 2019 No Comments

Temple is becoming an increasing presence in the Central Texas’ growing biotechnology corridor. The one institution at the center of it all is the Temple Health and Bioscience District (THBD). Established in 2003, THBD was created as a result of legislation passed by the state and approved by Temple voters. The goal? To provide premier office and lab space for early-stage biotech companies that are taking health-related products from conception to manufacturing.

As part of its mission to grow twenty-first century jobs by fostering bioscience education, research and healthcare in Central Texas, THBD supports the work of startups and entrepreneurs, while encouraging future generations to pursue careers in the life sciences. The team at THBD routinely engages students and teachers to share one common message: when it comes to the future of bioscience, the possibilities are endless.

In October, a group of bright young students from Temple Independent School District’s (TISD) International Baccalaureate program visited THBD to explore the facility. According to the International Baccalaureate (IB) website, its programs “encourage both personal and academic achievement, challenging students to excel in their studies and in their personal development.” The Temple High School students who visited THBD, exemplary models of the IB program, gained hands-on experience and unrivaled laboratory education during their tour.

Upon arrival at THBD, students learned about the facility, the only not-for-profit incubator of its kind in Texas from Executive Director Tami Annable. Mr. Colin Dodson and Mr. Ryan Quinn of SiMMo3D, a tenant company at THBD, shared their story of how they became entrepreneurs and what classes they took in college. As the brief lecture concluded, students were given lab coats, safety glasses, and were divided into four groups and then directed to r stations within THBD’s lab space.

At station one, students explored the tissue culture room and examined cancer cells from mice underneath a microscope. Annable, whose background is a cancer researcher, showed students what to look for and spoke about the process of growing cells for research. Later, she explained how the biohazard hood works, the importance of sterile technique and showed students how to pipette.

At station two, students learned about the Leica Laser Microdissection Microscope, the potential uses of the microscope, and learned how to pipette smaller quantities, from a local researcher (Dr. Anca Petrescu from the VA).

Students at station three got a lesson on physics, focusing on stress points and biomechanics, courtesy of Mr. Dodson. Researchers use these methods to better understand the stresses the human body places on bones, as well as surgical implements such as screws. Mr. Dodson used THBD’s state-of-the-art Instron testing system to demonstrate stresses, pulls and breaking points put on the human body.

At station four, Mr. Quinn educated students about the various applications of 3D printing in healthcare and bioscience development. He displayed the 3D models created by SiMMo3D and showcased the moving parts and realistic nature of the models. Students were then given newly printed models to remove excess resin and support.

After the tour, students regrouped to share what they had learned and voice their interest in entrepreneurship and the life sciences. Each student received a 3D printed lithograph displaying their school mascot, the Temple Tigers. As students turned in their laboratory equipment at the end of the day, they left inspired and eager to explore the wonderful world of science, fueled with the knowledge that researchers and entrepreneurs are making waves right here in their own hometown.

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