Office Use Only MGFY13 Isler Grant Application Cover Sheet

Office Use Only MGFY13 Isler
Exceptional Merit Grants Program for Faculty and Staff
Grant Application Cover Sheet
Contact Information for the Primary Person submitting the Proposal:
Name and Title: Dr. Bradley J Isler; Associate Professor of Biology, Biotechnology Program Coordinator, and Biology Programs Coordinator
Biological Sciences
ASC 2004, 820 Campus Drive
Big Rapids MI 49307
Phone Number: 231-591-2641
[email protected]
Project Name:
Enrichment of an academic camp, STEM education, and undergraduate recruitment using advanced personalized medicine
Purpose of the
Purchase of basic lab equipment to enhance lab exercises in a summer academic camp for high school students.
Amount Requested: $7500
Total Project Cost:
Dates of the Project: Primary: July 7-12, 2013. Secondary: Ongoing through future fall, spring , and summer semesters.
Project Completion Date:
Primary: July 12, 2013. Secondary: Undetermined.
Approval and signatures: The Foundation Office will forward your application to the names you enter below. It will be your
responsibility to follow up to ensure the proper signatures are obtained and the completed cover sheet is returned to the
Foundation Office.
Faculty -- Dean and Department Head Support. The project proposal in the attached document is consistent with
the needs and direction of the department and college.
Enter the name of your Dean and Department Head/Chair below.
Dean: Dr. Rick Kurtz
Signature, Dean
Department Head/Chair: Dr. Joe Lipar
Signature, Department Head/Chair
STAFF - Vice President and Supervisor support: The project proposal in the attached document is
consistent with the needs and direction of the department and unit.
Enter the name of your Vice President and Supervisor below.
Vice President:
Signature, Vice President
Signature, Supervisor
Narrative: When completing the narrative portion, please contain discussion to the allowable space on the page.
A statement of how the project demonstrates exceptional merit in advancing the mission of Ferris State University.
Include how the project compliments and enhances other efforts on campus and how the project compliments and enhances
other efforts on campus and how the project will continue in the future.
For the past seven years, I have had the pleasure of serving as coordinator of the summer biotechnology academy here at Ferris
State. The summer biotechnology academy is a five day academic camp directed towards high school students interested in
pursuing a career in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines. Our unofficial slogan for the
summer biotechnology academy is "No boring lectures!", so we strive to immerse the students in hands-on laboratory exercises
during their five days on campus. When I first became coordinator of the camp in the summer of 2006, the camp was primarily
focused on the forensic sciences, due to the popularity of the TV show CSI and associated student interest in this area. However,
over the past 3 years, as student interest in forensic sciences has began to wane, I have increasingly focused camp exercises on an
emerging area of science: personalized medicine.
In its broadest sense, personalized medicine is the use of personal genetic data to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
With the rapidly decreasing cost of sequencing individual genomes, personalized medicine will be increasingly used by physicians
in a clinical setting. Beyond the strict medical uses of genomics and personalized medicine, some startup companies have
developed mail-order services whereby a consumer can submit a DNA sample and the company will produce, for the customer, a
list of statistical predictions based on their genomic data for a variety of traits such as disease susceptibility, predisposition to drug
addiction, and athletic ability (among others). In this early phase of personalized medicine, many scientists view the services
offered by these companies as nothing more than expensive parlor tricks that have the risk of misinforming customers about their
current and future health status. It is important that the public understand both the positive and negative ramifications of
personalized medicine, as it will be an important component of their future medical care.
In addition to the inherent public health aspects of personalized medicine, the field of personalized medicine is also a quickly
growing area from a business and employment perspective. Employment in personalized-medicine related professions (clincial
care, clinical diagnosis, research and development) will be an attractive career option for the current generation of K-12 students as
they complete undergraduate degrees. Ferris State continues to be well prepared to train students for employment in these areas
via research-based programs like the biotechnology program within the College of Arts and Sciences and clinical-based programs
within the College of Health Professions. The summer biotechnology academy presents an excellent opportunity to get highly
qualified and motivated high school students on campus for recruitment into these programs. On average, I am able to recruit 1-2
campers per year to eventually attend Ferris in a STEM related area. In this era of decreasing high school enrollment, the
recruitment of high quality students into academic programs at Ferris State is especially crucial. The enhancement of personalizedmedicine related lab exercises within the summer biotechnology academy will serve to increase the effectiveness of our
recruitment activities.
Another increasing focus of the summer biotechnology academy has been the recruitment of minority and underrepresented
students. For the past four years, I have worked with the Ferris Camps Office and the GRAPCEP program to bring students from
these groups to campus for the summer academy. The GRAPCEP program is a pre-science and engineering program coordinated
by the Grand Rapids public school system to promote STEM education and career development within underrepresented
populations. We have been able to bring 4-8 GRAPCEP students to the summer biotechnology academy every year free of charge
to the students. I have also strengthened our relationship with the GRAPCEP program by participating in their annual biomedical
career day and hosting one day "mini-camps" where a small subset of ninth grade GRAPCEP students come to Ferris and
participate in short laboratory exercises. A connection between Ferris State and the GRAPCEP program is especially crucial
considering the other institutions associated with the program are from the immediate Grand Rapids area (Grand Valley State
University, Calvin College, Van Andel Research Institute, Michigan State University School of Medicine). Participation of GRAPCEP
students in Ferris-related activities allows us to maintain a recruitment foothold in the Grand Rapids area, especially when
competing against other STEM-focused institutions. The enhancement of laboratory exercises within the biotechnology summer
academy will allow us to increase the effectiveness of our recruiting of these students.
This summer academy and the focus on personalized medicine clearly fits with the Ferris mission to prepare students for successful
careers and responsible citizenship. It also helps to strengthen the biotechnology program's partnerships with GRAPCEP. In the
following project description, I will provide more details about how this project will enhance the opportunities, both for the camp
and for the biotechnology program.
A brief description of the project being proposed and the desired outcomes (maximum 1 page).
Considering the societal aspects of personalized medicine and the relationship between personalized medicine and STEM-related
careers, several years ago I developed a set of laboratory protocols that are designed to illustrate, to students, the basic
fundamentals of personalized medicine. These protocols focus on natural genetic variation associated with non-pathogenic traits
such as athletic ability, lactose intolerance, caffeine tolerance, red hair, preference to the herb cilantro, and natural sleep cycles. I
teach three genetics related courses here at Ferris State: Biology 101 (for non-majors), Biology 375 (for biology majors), and Biology
475 (for upper-level biotechnology majors). In each of these classes, I select a subset of students, extract DNA from their cheek cells,
and, using modern DNA sequencing, determine each student's genetic sequence related to the above traits. The student’s genetic
results are then used to illustrate, on a personal level, the relationship between genetics and expression of the various traits. I also
highlight the positive and negative aspects of using simple genetic tests for investigating complex multifactorial traits (such as
athletic ability). One important aspect of the personalized medicine exercises within these courses is that I perform all of the
laboratory procedures of the genetic analysis myself. Because these courses are all lecture courses, there is, unfortunately, no room
within the framework of the course outline to have the students spend a week in the laboratory performing the procedures. I have
no doubt that some of the power of the personalized medicine discussion is lost when the students are not involved in the
laboratory procedures.
I use a similar procedure for the summer biotechnology academy, except for the academy, the campers actually perform many of
the steps of the genetic analysis themselves. Again, focusing on our slogan of "There are no boring lectures!", I strive to get the
campers involved in hands-on activities. This coming summer academy will be the third in which I have involved campers in the
personalized medicine laboratory exercises. Considering that the majority of the campers have very little laboratory experience, the
fact that approximately 2/3 of the campers obtain genetic data of an acceptable quality is actually quite good. However, one area in
which I have struggled is with the availability of basic laboratory equipment. One of the most basic tools of modern genetic
research is a micropipette. Laboratory techniques such as those performed at the summer academy require the use of multiple
micropipettes of various sizes to transfer liquid reagents between reaction tubes. In the past, I have scrounged a menagerie of
pipettes of various sizes from research labs in our department for use in the biotechnology academy. This arrangement is not ideal
for several reasons:
1) The selection of pipettes available to me from the research labs is not adequate to facilitate laboratory activities for all 24
campers. Optimally, I should have 3 pipettes (of various sizes) available for each group of 4 students. So, for a laboratory of 24
campers, I should have 6 sets of 3 pipettes each, or 18 pipettes total. In practice, I am lucky to obtain 2 pipettes per student group of
various and mismatched sizes. The result of having this hodgepodge of pipettes is that many more steps of the laboratory exercise
must be performed by myself or by one of my student assistants at the front table using a matched set of instructor pipettes, rather
than by the campers themselves. If one of the highlights of the summer camp is personal hands-on activities, the lack of proper
micropipettes reduces the effectiveness of the exercise, and therefore the summer camp itself.
2) The type of micropipettes obtained from research labs are not the type that should be use in a venue like the biotechnology
academy. The micropipettes found in the typical research lab are of a higher precision, and therefore are less resilient to abuse by
students just learning how to use them It would be far better to have a set of micropipettes specifically designed for educational
use, which are of an acceptable quality, but are also designed to better withstand the abuses of novices in the laboratory.
I propose the purchase of 18 pipettes (6 sets of 3 pipettes each) that could be used both in the summer biotechnology camp, and
potentially within other high-school related activities (such as one day "mini-camps").
Another need for the summer academy is modern genetic analysis software. The ability to take genetic data from the students and
present it to them in an understandable format is dependent on data analysis. Currently, I am using a variety of freeware and opensource analysis programs to analyze data that, while minimally sufficient, are not as quick or detailed as is needed for a full analysis
and presentation of the data. The speed and ease of analysis is especially important for the biotechnology academy, since all
activities are completed within the short span of 5 days. I propose the purchase of an industry-standard genetic analysis program
that could be used primarily for biotechnology camp, but also for other class and research-based activities within the biology
The biotechnology summer academy has always been a self-supporting entity. Camper registration fees are sufficient to cover
housing, laboratory supply, and employment costs. The amount of profit from the biotechnology academy varies from year to year,
but is usually around $500. This money is returned to the department for use in future biotechnology camps. Unfortunately, the
profit margin is not sufficient to make major equipment purchases for use in future summer academies. Raising the camper fees to
pay for equipment purchases is also not a viable option, as our goal is to make the summer academy as financially accessible to as
many potential campers as possible. The awarding of an exceptional merit grant to the biotechnology summer academy would
allow us to purchase needed equipment, while maintaining the affordability of the academy and increasing educational
effectiveness of its laboratory exercises.
Note: The development of the personalized medicine lab exercises contained within this proposal was performed in consultation
with Connie Meinholdt, the chair of the IRB at Ferris State. Per Connie, the nature of these exercises do not require IRB approval.
Timeline for project implementation:
All equipment and analysis software would be immediately purchased upon awarding of a merit grant. Purchased items would be
first used during the 2013 summer biotechnology academy, which will be held from July 7-12, 2013. The nature of the purchased
items is such that they are not disposable or one-use, so they will be used for various high-school related recruitment and
department activities in the future.
The names and qualifications of all individuals who are substantially responsible for pursuing the proposal's objectives:
Dr. Bradley J Isler
2003 - PhD - The Ohio State University (Animal Genetics/Animal Sciences)
2003-2005. Research Scientist - USDA Meat Animal Research Center - Clay Center, NE
2005-2008. Assistant Professor of Biology - Ferris State University
2008-present. Associate Professor of Biology - Ferris State University
2005-present. Biotechnology Program Coordinator
2011-present. Biology Programs Coordinator
2006-present. Director of the Summer Biotechnology Academy
I have worked in biotechnology and genetics-related areas for the past 10 years, primarily dealing with the control of complex traits
in livestock species. I have taught at Ferris State University since 2005, focusing on my role as biotechnology program coordinator
and the instruction of non-major and majors level genetics courses.
Discuss how you will disseminate the results/findings of your project to the University, community, and/or your greater academic/
professional community. Dissemination plans should also be included in your project timeline on page 4. Additionally, identify your
specific plans to report to the Foundation Board of Directors your project results and conclusions (per the RFP requirements).
Part 1
Once the equipment and supplies are purchased, they will become a permanent part of the summer biotechnology academy. The
purchase of the equipment will be publicized as part of normal biotechnology academy publicity efforts. It will also be used by the
department in its community outreach and recruitment efforts. To publicize my efforts with the camp I have an active relationship
with the EIO unit of Ferris State and, specifically, the Camps Office. I work in a collaborative manner with the Camps Office to
promote the biotechnology camp in various venues. These promotion activities include participation in off-campus career fairs
(GRAPCEP program) and active involvement with Bill Bitzinger to have a dynamic record of each biotechnology summer academy.
I also use the biotechnology summer academy and its associated activities to help recruit undergraduate students as part of my
responsibilities as coordinator of the biotechnology and biology programs.
Part 2
By December 20, 2013 I will submit my interim report on the implementation of the new lab activities at the 2013 summer
biotechnology academy and evaluation of use of the equipment included in this proposal. The April 30, 2014 final report will
update any future plans for the equipment and supplies purchased. The final report will also detail any recruitment activities,
including any mini-camps held and any departmental activities which will have used the equipment and supplies.
Budget - Detail how grant funds will be used. The budget should also describe the extent to which any additional resources beyond the Foundation's
grant are needed and have been committed to the project. If requesting equipment, assess distribution/disposal upon completion of project. Please
list items under the expense categories. **Food and beverage expenses will not be funded by the Foundation. It is not the intent of the grant
to fund/provide direct compensation for faculty/staff. Student salaries are considered on a case by case basis**
Project Income:
Ferris Foundation:
In-Kind (please specify):
Other Sources (please specify):
Annual Summer Academy Budget - Overall
Project Expenses:
Ferris Foundation
Salaries/Personnel Costs
Supplies and Materials
Other Sources
Travel & Transportation
Budget Narrative
Explain estimated income and expenses listed on the previous page. For ongoing projects, please include a discussion financial
sustainability of the project or initiative.
The majority of funding for the biotechnology summer academy comes from camper registration fees, which are currently set at $650
per camper (24 campers is maximum enrollment for the camp). The general breakdown of the camp budget is as follows: $6139 for
student counselor and instructor salaries, $2392 for camp supplies (laboratory and instructional), and $7032 for camper food and
housing costs, for a total of approximately $15563 per camp. We are not requesting any Foundation monies for basic academy
funding, due to the self-funding nature of the camp.
From the Ferris Foundation, we are requesting the following:
1) 6 sets of Finpipette F1 GLP Micropipette Kits that contain 3 micropipettes and a starter supply of micropipette tips for each
micropipette. Each kit costs $650 (approximate shipping costs included), for a total of $3900 for 6 sets.
2) LaserGene Core Suite - Cloning and Alignment Option. This is an industry standard genetic analysis software package that can be
used to analyze the type of genetic data collected as part of the personalized medicine exercises associated with the biotechnology
academy This software package costs $3000 for a lifetime license.
3) Micropipette tips. Micropipettes use disposable plastic tips as part of their normal use. $600 is requested to purchase a large
supply of tips for each of the three different sizes of micropipettes included in this proposal.
Future disbursement of equipment and supplies.
1) Micropipettes. Micropipettes will be used in future offerings of the biotechnology summer academy, along with other high-school
related recruitment and department activities.
2) LaserGene Software. Along with being used in future offerings of the biotechnology summer academy and in Dr. Isler's other
personalized medicine-related class activities, the LaserGene software package will also be made available for use by other faculty
3) Micropipette tips. Any tips that remain unused after the 2013 summer biotechnology academy will be used during future uses of
the micropipettes as described above.
Submit by Email
Print Form