Celebrating 65 Years and 15 Sequences in GenBank

January 12, 2012

As Sacred Heart Academy celebrates 65years of excellence in education, its nationally recognized and well-renowned biotechnology research program is also celebrating a milestone – the publication of a 15th sequence in GenBank, a division of the National Center of Biotechnology Information.

Students began sequencing DNA at the Academy in 1997 and the following year presented at their first scientific conference. By 2005, students were submitting sequences of partial coding regions to entire genes to GenBank. Each year students present their research to the scientific community at national meetings; this academic school year, students will travel to three scientific conferences to present DNA research. Now in its fourteenth year, the SHA biotechnology research program has grown to accommodate 20 students and each year more and more students express strong interest in the program.

“I am not aware of any other high school who can claim to have published numerous sequences completely derived by students and without scientific intervention, “offered Sr. Mary Jane Paolella, ASCJ who founded the biotechnology program at Sacred Heart Academy. “ Sacred Heart Academy students have published the following sequences in GenBank: BMP2, VDR, CALCR, COL1A, and BGLAP – genes all implicated in Osteoporosis and several mitochondrial DNA genes – ATP6 synthase, CYTb, and all three subunits of COX: I, II, and III) which total 10,864 nucleotides in all, “ she added.

To date, students have attended meetings sponsored by: The Institute of Genomic Research/Venter Institute, the American Society of Human Genetics, the International Symposium on Osteoporosis, the Genetics Society of America, Experimental Biology-American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, AAAS, and the New England Estuarine Research Society.

Over the years, the Academy has received both national and local media attention for its outstanding and innovative science department, particularly the cutting-edge biotechnology research program. The science department has garnered several grants and earned multiple awards and recognitions, most recently named one of the top three science high schools in the country by the Intel Foundation.

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