RALEIGH — Would you like to perform your own enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay? You can, thanks to a $100,000 Biogen Idec Foundation grant made to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for the development of innovative health science programming. The assay is a simulated peanut allergy test based on antigen-antibody reactions, and just one of many creative experiments visitors will soon have the opportunity to participate in and learn from. “This generous grant from Biogen Idec Foundation helps ensure that the Museum continues to provide the people of North Carolina with innovative, cutting-edge programming,” said Museum Director Emlyn Koster. “We are delighted and grateful for their continued support.”
The majority of the grant money will help coordinators of the Museum’s Micro World Investigate Lab develop and facilitate a new “interdisciplinary” curriculum that will connect basic sciences — such as chemistry, immunology, microbiology, the environment, biotechnology methods, critical thinking, ethics and scientific design — to applications in human health. Sample topics include “Bioremediation and Biofuels,” “Disease Diagnosis and Treatment,” and “Epidemiology and Bioterrorism.” The money will also help cover transportation costs for students in outlying and underserved counties to travel to the Museum for these Investigate Lab programs.
“The Biogen Idec Foundation and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences share an ongoing commitment to science education in our state through inspiring, innovative programming,” said Machelle Sanders, director of the Biogen Idec Foundation. “We’re especially pleased to be able to help underserved students benefit from the Investigate Lab programs. The Museum’s new Micro World Investigate Lab curriculum will engage youth through extensive hands-on learning and experimentation, ignite long-term scientific curiosity and ultimately will inspire our next generation of science leaders to pursue passions that change our state and our world.”
A smaller portion of the grant will support the Museum’s BEST•Fest 2014 event, which brings university and industry scientists together to showcase amazing advances in Biotechnology, Engineering, Science and Technology through fun, hands-on and interactive activities. Visitors learn about the Triangle area’s history and promising future as an innovative leader in these fields, as well as why these fields are important to their daily lives. Next year’s event will be held Saturday, April 5, and is being expanded to include more information on health science and innovations in the healthcare field.
The Biogen Idec Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of peoples' lives and contribute to the vitality of the communities in which the company operates, with a special emphasis on innovative ways to promote science literacy and encourage young people to consider science careers. Additional information about the Biogen Idec Foundation can be found at: http://www.biogenidec.com/citizenship_biogen_idec_foundation.html 
Photo: A visitor to the Micro World Investigate Lab performs a "Confused Chemicals" activity. The problem to solve: Which bottle of solution is iodine and which is colored water. Visitors must be able to follow the protocol, use the equipment correctly, obtain results and interpret them to solve the mystery. Credit: Tiffany Wilson.