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Biology Department Acquires Genetic Analysis System

RELEASED: Oct. 27, 2005

UW-Eau Claire biology students with Lloyd Turtinen and Julie Anderson
Julie Anderson, assistant professor of biology, explains data displayed by the new gene-sequencing instrument recently acquired by the UW-Eau Claire biology department. Looking on are senior biochemistry/molecular biology students Amy Croswell, left, and Megan O'Brien, seated, and biology professor Lloyd Turtinen. Anderson and Turtinen were awarded a $60,000 grant that was matched by funding from UW-Eau Claire to purchase the $120,000 instrument. (UW-Eau Claire News Bureau photo)

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire science students who are preparing for careers involving genetics and genomics will benefit for years to come from a genetic analysis system recently installed in the biology department.

The biology department purchased the $120,000 gene sequencing instrument, called a CEQ 8000 Genetic Analysis System, thanks to a Genomics Educational Grant from Beckman Coulter Inc., a life science research and diagnostic company and manufacturer of the CEQ, and matching funds from UW-Eau Claire.

"Faculty and students will be able to work with cutting edge technology in molecular biology and remain up to date with the learning and information curve in their fields," said Paula Kleintjes, biology department chairwoman.

Students in the lab sections of several different courses and those working with faculty members on research projects will use the CEQ, which is located on the third floor of Phillips Science Hall, said Julie Anderson, assistant professor of biology. Anderson and Lloyd Turtinen, professor of biology, were awarded the $60,000 grant which was matched by funding from the biology department, College of Arts and Sciences, Provost's Office and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

"In order to attract the best students and provide state-of-the-art theory and training for them, we need to provide essential tools such as this piece of equipment," Turtinen said. "Students going on to graduate school or jobs in industry or academia will use this same type of instrumentation."

Another objective, Anderson said, is to instill an understanding of the increasing importance of computer technology as a tool for revealing and characterizing complex patterns in biological systems.

Developed using Beckman Coulter's extensive experience in laboratory automation and leadership in capillary electrophoresis technology, the new equipment fully automates most genetic analysis functions. It is a good way to teach students about capillary electrophoresis, the chemistry of DNA Sequencing, the molecular genetics of genotyping and other important aspects associated with teaching genetics, faculty said.

Anderson said there are a number of ongoing faculty/student collaborative research projects in biology that will benefit from the use of the CEQ.

At primarily undergraduate institutions like UW-Eau Claire, it's difficult for faculty to balance the competing time demands of significant teaching loads and productive research, Anderson said. "Our goal with the purchase of the CEQ is to integrate teaching with research," she said.

Beckman Coulter scientists will train Turtinen and Anderson to use the new equipment in November and again in January. Students and faculty will begin using it in the spring semester.

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JW/JB

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