LAKE SUCCESS, NY – North Shore-LIJ Laboratories on Tuesday hosted a reception to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the DNA Learning Center West, with Nobel Prize winner Dr. James Watson paying a surprise visit.
The DNA Learning Center, a joint collaboration of North Shore-LIJ Health Sysem and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), has provided education in genetics to more than 30,000 middle and high school students from across Long Island, New York City and the entire tri-state area since opening in June 2002. Within the 2,200-square-foot education center, located adjacent to North Shore-LIJ Laboratories’ headquarters at 10 Nevada Drive in Lake Success, are a genetic/biochemistry lab, a prep lab, lunchroom and an office. North Shore-LIJ Laboratories underwrites the $250,000 annual cost of the leased space.
“For many of these students, the experience they’ve gained at the DNA Learning Center West has opened their eyes to careers in medicine, science and other healthcare fields,” said Robert Stallone, vice president of North Shore-LIJ Laboratories. He said some former students now work as medical technologists and in other related jobs at North Shore-LIJ Laboratories, a fully automated, 60,000-square-foot facility that offers a range of specialty lab testing to physician practices, hospitals, nursing homes and the bio-medical industry. The Lab’s business has doubled in the past four years, underscoring the career opportunities available for young people in this field.
The three-to-four-hour daily tours of the DNA Learning Center West and North Shore-LIJ Laboratories are so popular that schools must book a year in advance, said center instructor Tedi Setton. In addition to the school tours, the DNA Learning Center hosts about 300 students during its annual summer program. Curriculum is developed and taught by CSHL staff.
Among the highlights of the center’s curriculum, students are able to view their own DNA, utilizing the center’s fingerprinting and human mitochondrial sequencing labs. The center’s interactive approach links the process of discovery to learning, said James Crawford, MD, North Shore-LIJ’s chair of pathology. “Every time I come by the Lab, I’m looking for those bright eyes of students and they’re here five days a week, year-round,” said Dr. Crawford.
To learn more about the DNA Learning Center West, go to: www.dnalc.org/about/locations/aboutdnalcwest.html