Annual Meeting

2013 Hospital Library Services Program (HLSP) Annual Meeting Attendees Learn All About DNA

On Friday, December 6, 2013, LILRC hosted its Annual Meeting of the Hospital Library Services Program (HLSP) at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, NY.

Guest Speaker: Christine Marizzi, Ph.D.
Guest Speaker: Christine Marizzi, Ph.D.

The meeting kicked-off with a presentation by our morning guest speaker Christine Marizzi, Ph.D., who presented, “Reading the Code of Life: Using DNA Barcodes to Identify and Classify Living Things.”  Christine is a passionate scientist and educator who manages the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center (DNALC) West.  In her enthusiastic discussion, Christine shared with attendees the success of the Harlem DNA Lab, which is providing students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education through hands-on opportunities for experiments in a state-of-the-art science laboratory.  She shared inspiring stories about students who have participated in the Urban Barcode Project (UBP), which is a science competition spanning the five boroughs of New York City.  By participating in the project, student research teams use DNA barcoding to explore biodiversity in New York City.  Christine shared exciting examples of projects including student teams exploring fungi in New York’s Central Park (which has never been done), using DNA barcoding to identify the content of herbal products, and many more.

Attendees Extracting DNA
Attendees particpating in the DNA extraction experiment with guidance from Christine Marizzi, Ph.D.

Now it was time for attendees to put their new knowledge to the test as Christine guided us through a human DNA extraction–that’s right–attendees used their own cheek cells!  Equipped with test tubes, plastic cups, droppers and the other needed materials, attendees began the process of creating their very own DNA necklaces.  Here are the steps we took:

Step 1: Swish 6ML of sports drink in your mouth for 30 seconds and expel the solution into a paper cup.
Step 2: Carefully pour the cell solution back into the sports drink tube and label the tube with your initials.
Step 3: Pour 2ML of soup solution to the cell solution, raising the total volume to 8ML
Step 4: Gently invert the tube 5 times to mix.  Incubate at room temperature for 2 minutes.
Step 5: While holding your tube on an angle, use a plastic dropper to carefully pour 3ML of ethanol on top of the mixture of soap and cells.
Step 6: After 2 minutes, you should see DNA floating in the ethanol.  Use the plastic dropper to transfer 1ML of the ethanol and DNA into a small 1.5ML tube.  

In about 30 minutes attendees conducted the experiment and learned first-hand about DNA.  Christine provided a wealth of information in her presentation and for those curious about learning more, be sure to visit the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center site at, which is a portal to 21 content sites and online tools.

Following lunch and the business meeting, Michelle Burda, Network and Advocacy Coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region (MAR) joined the meeting virtually and provided a quick update on MAR happenings.  In addition, Michelle presented, “Health Literacy: Its Importance to You and Healthcare Professionals,” which examined why health literacy is important, how health literacy is defined today, and how health literacy will affect healthcare in the future.  Here are the presentation slides:

Click image for presentation slides (PDF)

Other useful resources on health literacy include the following videos:

In addition, be sure to visit the NN/LM MAR LibGuide on Health Literacy at:

Following Michelle’s presentation, attendees headed over to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library for a tour of the library, which was led by Clare Clark, Archivist of the Carnegie Library.  Take a look at photos of the library here:

Thanks to everyone that attended and to our guest speakers Christine Marizzi and Michelle Burda.  Also, a special thanks to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for hosting this event.

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