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Medical College of Wisconsin’s Innovation Center Provides Hands-On Summer Experience for Local Students

June 28, 2011

The Innovation Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin is partnering with Marquette University (MU) and the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) this summer to provide internships to 11 students. The undergraduate students will spend 10 weeks learning the newest biotechnology and bioengineering techniques in the laboratories of the Center.

“This collaboration provides students from MU and MSOE with opportunities to gain hands-on experience in the use of cutting edge technology and to develop critical thinking skills in designing their research project,” said Andrew Greene, Ph.D., professor of physiology, director of the Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering Center, and director of the Innovation Center. “We are happy to host these students as they explore careers in biotechnology. Having them in our labs allows them to see firsthand how complex diseases are studied and research is applied,” Dr. Greene added.

The MU students, who are studying biomedical engineering, will play a critical role in providing custom-designed laboratory equipment to support research efforts in the Innovation Center.

The MSOE students, who are studying biomolecular engineering, will explore the role proteins play in healthy and diseased cells. Some students will use state of the art equipment called mass spectrometers to research a variety of biomedical topics, from the genetics of obesity to how a virus infects a cell. Other students will study blood vessel growth or how to grow artificial tissue in the lab. Each student will be paired with a faculty advisor and will present the results of their projects at the end of the session.

“Experience like this has no substitute,” said Gul Afshan, Ph.D., director for the Biomolecular Engineering program at MSOE. “We can teach our students principles, concepts and models of engineering at the molecular level in the classroom, but the real world experience they gain at MCW’s Innovation Center train a student in how an actual laboratory operates and how these concepts are applied in research. These internships give them a very strong advantage in the job market or with their future education.” This is the second year students from Afshan’s program have held internships in the Center.

Jordan Wagner, an MSOE student who participated in the internship program last year, has already seen the benefit.

“I feel the knowledge I gained last summer put me ahead in my classes this fall. It prepared me to learn even more in the classroom,” Wagner said. “Instead of hearing about another laboratory technique, I was learning the details of a process that I had already seen in the lab.”

The Innovation Center is the result of a generous gift to the College from Dr. Robert D. and Dr. Patricia E. Kern to promote the advancement of biomedical science in Southeastern Wisconsin. The mission of the Center is to nurture a research enterprise at the high school, undergraduate and postdoctoral levels; to promote collaborations across institutions of higher learning in the greater Milwaukee area; to encourage collaboration within the Medical College of Wisconsin through internal research grants, and to invite visiting faculty to present seminars on topics related to the Innovation Center research.

More information about the Innovation Center and the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center can be found at:


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