(334d) From Cold Cataracts to An Undergraduate Laboratory

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Many years ago, our research group started looking into a liquid/liquid phase transition that involves the formation of a protein rich phase and a protein lean phase. A group of proteins that undergo such a phase transition are mammalian crystallins. Crystallins is a family of proteins ranging in molecular weight from nearly a million to 25,000. They differ also in their isoelectric point. A subfamily of low molecular weight crystallins is ã-cristallins, which are nearly of the same molecular weight with slight differences in their isoelectric point. The fractionation of this subfamily into its components and their characterization by neutron and light scattering has been the focused of our work for quite some time. The purification of crystallins was incorporated into a Bioseparations Laboratory which is a mandatory class for those student in a Biochemical Engineering Emphasis Program that we started nearly 20 years ago. Furthermore, the students characterize the preparation, explore new separation conditions and study them using sstatic and dynamic light scattering. Students that like to be challenged by their classes have been very receptive to our approach. Other students consider that the lab is ?too much work?. Still, it has been an excellent approach to attract students into our graduate program as many realize that to do research can be fun. This is just one example (the oldest) of research incorporated into our lab. We have also introduced the students to the isolation of transgenic antibodies, the precipitation of different glycosylated forms by non-ionic polymers, the production and purification of alcohol dehydrogenase, and the synthesis, purification and characterization of diblock peptides.

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