University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

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Chemical biology boot camp focuses on laboratory best practices

Professor Will Pomerantz, with the help of his graduate student Andrew Urick, developed and implemented a pilot for a chemical biology boot camp for graduate and undergraduate students, which was conducted over winter break. The boot camp gave students an opportunity to learn and practice new laboratory research techniques, including new chemical tools to study and perturb the structure and function of biological macromolecules. In addition, proper safety protocols and sterile technique for handling biohazardous materials were taught.

Three graduate students and two undergraduate students participated in the boot camp. Working with Urick, Pomerantz used aspects of his research to focus on expressing, purifying, and characterizing a transcription factor BrD4 and solid phase synthesis of small molecules to inhibit its function. Experiments on BrD4 also used a tyrosine-selective bioconjugation reaction to modify the protein. Students participating in the course were also exposed to outside resources, including the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute for inhibitor docking studies and the Masonic Cancer Center’s Analytical Biochemistry lab.

For the future, Pomerantz hopes that this boot camp will be able to integrate experiments, research and learning modules with strong overlap with the research of his colleagues in the Department of Chemistry and elsewhere at the university.

Pictured, left to right, Keith Arntson, Steven Kirberger, Joseph Manulik, and Andrew Urick. Not pictured: Stefan Brancel and Gabriella Perell.