Gel Documentation for Biology Research at Miami University

Project Title: Gel Documentation for Biology Research at Miami University

Project Lead's Name: Michael L. Robinson

Project Lead's Email:

Project Lead's Phone: 513-529-2353

Project Lead's Division: CAS

Primary Department: Biology

Other Team Members and their emails:

  • Susan Hoffman,
  • Paul James,
  • Katia Del Rio-Tsonis,
  • Kathy Killian,
  • Yoshi Tomoyasu,
  • Jack Vaugh,

List Departments Benefiting or Affected by this proposal:

  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry

Estimated Number of Under-Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 100

Estimated Number of Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 15

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem: Three existing visible light/UV imaging systems in the Department of Biology are no longer working, and they are too old to be repaired or updated. These imagers provide critical pieces of data collection equipment that are used mainly for undergraduate and graduate research projects, especially from the Robinson, James, Hoffman, Del Rio-Tsonis and Vaughn laboratories. They are also used in some advanced laboratory exercises from classes such as Bio 464 (Lab in Cell and Molecular Biology) , Bio 407 (Ichthyology) and Bio 410 (Mammology). A new system will permit students to visualize and characterize nucleic acid fragments from a wide variety of experiments.

The updated system will add the ability to digitally quantify the captured images, thus providing for advanced data analysis not possible with the older systems. Currently there is only one gel documentation that remains functional in Pearson Hall. This imager in the Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics is approximately 20 years old. If this imager fails, we will lose the ability to document DNA gel data.

How would you describe the innovation and/or the significance of your project: The innovation of our project is the ability to quantify the amount of DNA in gels via digital analysis software included in an updated gel documentation system. The significance of the project lies in the central nature of being able to document data from DNA gel analysis experiments. DNA and RNA gel electrophoresis represents a fundamental technique in molecular biology. Virtually any laboratory that works with plasmids, recombinant DNA technology, molecular evolution and genetics uses agarose gel electrophoresis and gel imaging on a nearly daily basis. These images are captured, printed and included in laboratory notebooks. The previous gel documentation system was used many times each day by both graduate and undergraduate students. Although the number of undergraduate students using the equipment is estimated at approximately 100 per year, many of these undergraduate students will use this equipment on a regular basis for their undergraduate research projects.

How will you assess the success of the project: We will keep a log of all the use of this equipment with a space to list undergraduate or graduate student usage. I will use this usage data to conduct a poll to ask all users how the images were significant in their research projects and if any presentations or publications included the use of this equipment.

Total Amount Requested: $11,686

Budget Details:

  1. Bio-Rad Molecular Imager Gel Doc System with Image Lab Software ($9,999.00, quote included)
  2. Computer to run the software ($1,500)
  3. APC Back-UPS Pro 1500VA UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector $186.00 - this is necessary to protect the instrument from power fluctuations that are common in Pearson Hall

Is this a multi-year request: No

Please address how, if at all, this project impacts any of Miami's BCSAE, 2020, or divisional plans: This proposal seeks to obtain a piece of equipment necessary to give our students the ability to participate in the molecular biology revolution that continues to transform society. Miami is fortunate to have faculty members working on the cutting edge of genetics and genetic engineering, and using molecular biology to answer fundamental evolutionary and ecological questions. This proposal primarily addresses the 2020 plan foundation goal 3, to "promote a vibrant learning and discovery environment that produces extraordinary student and scholarly outcomes".