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LCS Family of Companies is dedicated to developing, marketing, and managing senior living communities. One of the primary missions of their foundation is to support Alzheimer’s research by encouraging young people to get involved with studies related to Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention. Last year, the Waukee APEX medical research teams identified a goal to conduct experiments with human and/or animal cells. These types of projects would allow them to conduct research dealing with Alzheimer’s and other diseases; however, their lab was missing a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC), which is necessary when dealing with mammalian cells. Recently, with the help of the LCS Foundation and a STEM teaching award grant from the Iowa Governor’s STEM Council, the Waukee APEX program was able to purchase a BSC for the medical research lab.

The BSC cabinet is an enclosed ventilated laboratory workspace used for safely working with materials that could potentially be contaminated with pathogens. The APEX medical and bioscience research students are currently using their BSC cabinet to participate in a project partnering with Dr. Elitsa Ananieva from Des Moines University using the mouse lymphoma cell line EL-4. Without the use of the biological safety cabinet, this research partnership with the Des Moines University laboratory would not be an option. The BSC Cabinet makes it possible for APEX student associates to now work in conjunction with LCS and other researchers on projects like Alzheimer’s research in the future.

Dr. Holly Showalter, instructor for the Medical Research course, explains, “Being able to give my associates such a unique experience gives me a sense of pride. I know that they are learning cutting edge scientific techniques that they can apply in future college and workforce interviews. With this equipment we have been able to conduct research that we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”

The Waukee APEX team thanks the LCS Foundation for their generous donation to our program along with the Iowa Governor’s STEM council for honoring STEM teachers by supporting them with grant money to purchase items such as the BSC cabinet. Karigian Rossiter, a junior currently enrolled in the medical research class this spring, shared what it means to them to have access to these types of experiences. “Having the opportunity to work with this equipment has given us experiences that few other high students have. We are able to safely handle mouse lymphoma cells and conduct other research on them,” stated Karigan. We are hoping to present the first research using the BSC cabinet at the Iowa Junior Academy of Science at UNI this April.

Stay tuned for future reports about experiments and research conducted in the medical research laboratory.