Upcoming Classes, Workshops & Events
please note that all our classes are hands-on in the lab. all safety gear and materials are provided.
BArbarians at the Gate: The Truth About Antibiotics
A Free Lecture By Dr. Sandra Breum Andersen - wednesday November 8th - 7-9PM
The development of antibiotics has revolutionized our society – we’re now much less likely to die from infections following a small cut in the hand or even open heart surgery. There are, however, serious consequences of our the extensive use of antibiotics. I will talk about how microorganisms produce antibiotics to compete with each other, and how we have exploited this natural arsenal of weapons to our benefit and detriment. While the advantages are obvious in the clinic, antibiotics are used also in cases where they are not needed, and as growth enhancers in life stock. The two main problems we are now facing are antibiotic resistance and disturbance of our beneficial microbes. I will explain how resistance arise and spread, and how the loss of “friendly” bacteria from our gut may lead to problems with obesity, diabetes and asthma.
Dr. Sandra Breum Andersen is a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab of Dr. Martin Blaser at the Langone Medical Center at NYU, funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, where she works with the intricate social lives of Helicobacter pylori stomach bacteria. Prior to arriving in NY in 2016, Sandra acquired a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology in her native Denmark, working with behavior-manipulating fungi that turn ants into zombies. Reluctantly leaving behind fieldwork in tropical forests, Sandra turned to the social lives of bacteria causing lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. This research was done at the University of Oxford and the Technical University of Denmark and revealed how bacteria can cooperate and cheat in our bodies.
windows of the soul: the science of vision
a free lecture by dr. Tiago Siebert Altavini - wednesday october 25 7-9pm
As most primates we humans rely heavily on our visual perception to guide ourselves around the world and therefore our brains are very good in processing visual information about different shapes, colors and brightness variations. But putting together all the physical attributes is not enough to recognize something (or someone). To recognize something is to give meaning to it. The meaning of an object however is not an intrinsic physical feature of the object, but something also defined by internal representations in our brains, often based in past experience. You cannot recognize what you never saw. There are also many levels of recognition. I can show a green leaf and you will tell me “that’s a leaf” while someone else would tell me “that is a leaf from a red oak”. Thus visual perception is not just the processing of information about the physical attributes of what we see, but the combination of these physical attributes to the internal representations the already brain has. How is it that our memory and expectations influence our visual perception? Join us in an exploration of how we perceive reality through the windows of the soul.
Dr. Tiago Siebert Altavini is a neuroscientist working in the Laboratory of Neurobiology in The Rockefeller University. He has been studying different aspects of the visual system since he was a biology undergrad student at the University of Brasilia. The interest in neuroscience of vision led him to a PhD at the University of Rio Grande do Norte where he worked with Dr. Kerstin Schmidt at the university’s Brain Institute. His PhD research was on the visual connections in the brain and their influence in patterns of spontaneous brain activity. Now working with Dr. Charles Gilbert he is investigating the top-down influence of feedback connections on object recognition. The aim of such research is to understand the mechanisms by which expectation influences visual perception.
Methuselah's Return: Aging and Longevity Science in the 21st Century
A Free Lecture by Dr. Oliver medvedik - Wednesday October 18 - 7-9PM
Must we grow old and die? Understanding how and why we age and, by extension, devising a "cure" for our own mortality,has long been part of humanity's quest since earliest recorded history. In the relatively short period of time that tools of molecular biology have been developed, they have now been applied to questions of aging and longevity with incredibly fruitful results. These findings, along with their application to new classes of therapeutics being developed to inhibit and even reverse aging, will be discussed.
Dr. Oliver Medvedik, TED Fellow and open-source synthetic biologist and director of the Maurice Kanbar Center for Biomedical Research at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. He is cofounder and Vice President of the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation, a nonprofit organization that maintains a crowdfunding platform Lifespan.io for funding of longevity and life extension research. Dr. Medvedik’s career stems in part from his doctoral work in which he used single-celled budding yeast as a genetic system to map pathways that underlie the processes of aging in complex organisms, such as humans. Since then, he has worked as a consultant for Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company specializing in the research and development of small- molecule therapeutics to treat age-onset diseases. He obtained his bachelor's degree in biology from Hunter College, City University of New York, in 1998, and holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School in the Biomedical and Biological Sciences program.
Biotech 101 - august 20, 27 & September 3rd - 3-7Pm
fee: adults $300 - students $150
Channel your inner biohacker! A 12-hour class over four weeknights. This introductory hands-on class is specifically designed for those with no previous knowledge of molecular biology, or those who wish to brush up on their training. You will practice the techniques that are the basis of the biotech revolution, including DNA extraction, gel electrophoresis, bacterial transformation and PCR. We will discuss the history of biotech and where the field is going, plus the social and ethical implications of this fast-evolving technology. Three four-hour sessions on consecutive Sundays.
This class is a prerequisite for advanced classes. Minimum age is 13, and anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent.
workshop: editing genomes with crispr - august 21st 7-10pm
CRISPR is the new genome editing technology that has disrupted the biotechnology industry. Is it really plug-and-play? Are we gods now? During the workshop you will edit the genome of yeast using CRISPR-Cas9. We'll take a look at the latest CRISPR developments, from editing human embryos to bringing back the Woolly Mammoth, and the bitter battle over patents and the Nobel Prize.
free knowscience talk by andrew abrams
A 21st Century Revolution: How Epigenetics is Transforming our Understanding of Health and Disease
One should be wary of understating the importance of DNA in biology. Its elucidation in the 20th Century must surely count among humanity’s greatest scientific achievements, transforming the way we think about life and providing a common thread between organisms as diverse as bacteria and chimpanzees. However, there are many profound biological questions that genetics is unable to resolve, not least among them some of our most intimate concerns about human health and disease, and the critical role of our lifestyle and other environmental factors in shaping these. The exploding field of epigenetics has the potential to address these questions. In this talk we will explore what we mean by epigenetics, why it is so important, and how we might be able to harness it for a healthier future.
Andrew Abrams grew up in London, England and studied Natural Sciences and Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During this time, he conducted research into DNA repair in organisms that thrive in the incredibly harsh conditions of volcanic springs. He has since blended his scientific interests with more commercial ones, having worked as an Associate in J.P. Morgan’s healthcare investment banking practice in London, advising organizations spanning the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostic and other healthcare sub-sectors. He also holds an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and is currently working at a venture capital fund that invests in life sciences and information technology companies.
Monday september 18th- pcr and pizza- 7-10PM
Come on down to BwB's regular Open Night! Pizza, beer, and Lab work. Extract DNA from yourself and amplify it using PCR to test yourself for a CCR5 mutation, or just relax and have some great conversations around democratizing science. No charge, but donations for the pizza and beer greatly appreciated!
Build a biosensor with synthetic biology - september 25-28th - 6-9PM
fee: adults $300 - students $150
What if building a new life form was as easy as Lego bricks? Synthetic biology aims to simplify genetic engineering by creating libraries of DNA 'parts' that can be hooked together to form biological circuits. This has the added benefit of making it accessible to everyone, not just scientists. During this hands-on class you will delve into the iGEM library of standardized DNA parts, linking them together and loading your DNA program into a bacterial cell to build and test a biosensor circuit.
It's helpful to have basic lab skills taught in our introductory class (or equivalent). Minimum age is 13, and anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent.
Four three-hour sessions on consecutive weekdays.