Our outreach this year consisted of two different collaborations. Although we don’t have details ready for the wiki (as we are meeting with them a few days before the competition, well after the wiki freeze), several members of our team are planning to have an extended meeting with several leading experts in sleep medicine to exchange ideas and get feedback on our overall project idea. Organized with the help of Prof. Eve Van Cauter from the Sleep, Metabolism, and Health Center (SMHC) and director of the Sleep, Chronobiology, and Neuroendocrinology Research Laboratory at the University of Chicago, the session will include a presentation by Dr. Rachel Markwald, a sleep research physiologist from the Naval Health Research Office in San Diego, a presentation on current human melatonin research by Prof. Kathy Reid from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine's Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine, then some time for presentation of our own project. We hope to be able to report back with updates on this interesting collaboration in our presentation at the Jamboree.
Additionally, we helped provide mentorship and feedback to a high school team from Our Lady of the Snow Catholic Academy in Alberta, Canada (check out their wiki here: http://2015.igem.org/Team:OLS_Canmore_AB_CA). This year, they are pursuing a project to express keratinase similar to our project from 2013, and so we provided them with guidance on difficulties we encountered in our project, molecular mechanism of the keratinase, the process of chemically digesting the bonds, and ideas for making the keratinase-based father waste digesting process economically viable for chicken feathers. We also discussed different approaches that could be used to either produce pure keratinase on a large scale in bacteria or yeast or produce bacteria that could secrete keratinase on a large scale with no need for lysis.
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