GREENWOOD, SC – The Greenwood Genetic Center’s Gene Machine, a 41-foot bus custom equipped as a mobile state-of-the-art educational laboratory, stopped in at the G. Frank Russell Career Center to give students a glimpse into the work the non-profit institute performs.
The Greenwood Genetic Center, founded in 1974, is a non-profit institute organized to provide clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing, educational programs and resources and research in the field of medical genetics.
In 2010, the Genetic Center received grants from the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Institutes of Health to acquire the mobile laboratory in support of the institute’s commitment to education. In its first two years, the Gene Machine has served more than 8,000 students, visited 30 counties throughout South Carolina and travelled more than 26,000 miles.
Students from several classes, including Gail Rumfelt’s Introduction to Health Sciences class, piled into the bus, which can accommodate up to 24 students, to perform a mock test for sickle cell anemia.
“This class introduces students to medical professions other than doctors and nurses,” Rumfelt said. “They can see that there are other careers in the medical field if they don’t want to deal with blood or patients.”
Two genetics instructors, Katie Henderson and Jacki Cascio, walked the students through the basics of micropipettes and “putting wells in gels” before showing them how to test three different samples for sickle cell anemia.
“I used to be a teacher,” Cascio said. “I only wish that we had these types of resources when I taught.”
The Greenwood Genetic Center extends its services to residents throughout South Carolina with satellite offices in Charleston, Columbia, Florence and Greenville. Teachers and other interested groups can schedule tours of their various campuses or arrange a visit from the Gene Machine. Teachers can choose from 10 different modules that range from basic to advanced and address South Carolina science standards.
For information about the Greenwood Genetic Center visit their website, www.ggc.org.