Marine seagrasses are submerged flowering plants that form essential underwater meadows, fostering diverse ecosystems and providing a habitat for marine life. Our first Promega qPCR Grant winner and marine ecologist, Dr. Agustín Moreira-Saporiti, plans to continue adding to a fascinating body of work aimed at understanding flowering in marine seagrasses.
Dr. Moreira-Saporiti began his journey into marine plant ecology at the University of Vigo, Spain, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in marine sciences. He then went on to complete a master’s degree at the University of Bremen (Germany) where his thesis focused the ecology of seagrasses in Zanzibar, Tanzania. His passion for marine botany led him down a deeper exploration of marine plants, unraveling the intricate web of ecosystem processes within seagrasses.
On June 15, 2023, we announced the winners of the 2023 Promega iGEM grant. Sixty-five teams submitted applications prior to the deadline with projects ranging from creating a biosensor to detect water pollution to solving limitations for CAR-T therapy in solid tumors. The teams are asking tough questions and providing thoughtful answers as they work to tackle global problems with synthetic biology solutions. Unfortunately, we could only award nine grants. Below are summaries of the problems this year’s Promega grant winners are addressing.
The UCSC iGEM team from the University of California–Santa Cruz is seeking a solution to mitigate the harmful algal blooms caused by Microcystisaeruginosa in Pinto Lake, which is located in the center of a disadvantaged community and is a water source for crop irrigation. By engineering an organism to produce microcystin degrading enzymes found in certain Sphingopyxis bacteria, the goal is to reduce microcystin toxin levels in the water. The project involves isolating the genes of interest, testing their efficacy in E. coli, evaluating enzyme production and product degradation, and ultimately transforming all three genes into a single organism. The approach of in-situ enzyme production offers a potential solution without introducing modified organisms into the environment, as the enzymes naturally degrade over time.
Endometriosis is a condition that affects roughly 190 million (10%) women of reproductive age worldwide. Currently, there is no treatment for endometriosis except surgery and hormonal therapy, and both approaches have limitations. The IISc-Bengaluru team at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India, received 2023 Promega iGEM grant support to investigate the inflammatory nature of endometriosis by targeting IL-8 (interleukin-8) a cytokine. Research by other groups has snow that targeting IL-8 can reduce endometriotic tissue. This team will be attempting to create an mRNA vaccine to introduce mRNA for antibody against IL-8 into affected tissue. The team is devising a new delivery mechanism using aptides to maximize the delivery of the vaccine to the affected tissues.
You know this, but it bears repeating. Prioritizing physical, psychological, emotional and financial wellness is key to supporting our overall well-being. This holds true during the busy holiday season and throughout the entire year.
It can also be easier said than done, so we need as much support as possible in this vital endeavor. An in-depth framework recently published by the US Surgeon General outlines a vision of the workplace as an engine of well-being. The report states, “Our workplaces play a significant role in our lives. Work affects both our physical and mental well-being – in good ways and bad. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the relationship between work and well-being into clearer focus.”
It’s hard to imagine a better way to celebrate the 33rd International Symposium of Human Identification than a night spent wandering through the Hall of Human Evolution at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The meeting, which took place in Washington D.C. from October 31–November 4, focused largely on using investigative genetic genealogy (IGG). When used to identify human remains or solve cold cases, IGG (a.k.a. forensic genetic genealogy or forensic investigative genetic genealogy, take your pick) relies heavily on techniques developed to sequence DNA from ancient human remains.
New to ISHI this year were live-streamed presentations, building off the success of last year’s session recordings for online streaming. Another first was attendees dressing up in costume for the welcome reception, which happened to coincide with Halloween. From a nucleic acid-themed group costume to Sims characters to a bunch of grapes, ISHI 33 attendees had a chance to show off their fun side while reconnecting with colleagues.
While a range of topics were covered during the workshops, sessions and poster presentations, three themes stood out to this first-time ISHI attendee. In addition to IGG, there was widespread interest in developments in DNA databases as well as efforts to mobilize DNA analysis labs.
Happy Sustainability Day! You may not realize that the last Wednesday of every October is dedicated to reminding us of the importance of caring for our planet. Maybe you rode your bike to work today, replaced a burned-out lightbulb with an efficient LED bulb or made sure to turn off the water while brushing your teeth. (You won’t believe how much water this simple act will save. My fifth-grade teacher imparted this wisdom to me many, many, many years ago.)
We do our best to live our values here at Promega and we like to think that every day is one to prioritize and practice sustainable living. Like so many others, we are certainly learning along the way, and have a long way to go. But we were excited to announce this summer that Promega now draws over 20% of our global electricity from renewable sources. Investments in solar arrays have led to a ten-fold increase in renewable energy usage in the last three years.
Reducing Electricity Usage
Minimizing electricity usage at all our branches, distribution and manufacturing locations around the world is a priority since Promega has a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 50% as indexed to revenue by 2030. Electricity makes up nearly half of Promega emissions, so we are doing what we can to lessen this impact.
On a hill at the top of the Promega Madison campus, an old observatory overlooks the city of Fitchburg, Wisconsin. Inside, cutting-edge telescopes are ready to give students and astronomers breathtaking views of the cosmos.
Over the past 140 years, this observatory has served as the first launchpad for storied careers in astronomy. Following a relocation, it gave a passionate community a home for their curiosity. Today, it supports modern research while also welcoming stargazers of all ages. It is now one of the oldest operational observatories in the United States. This is the Bell Burnell Observatory.
In late May 2022, Promega invited the nine finalists for the Promega Brazil Young Researcher Award to present their work at a Student Research Symposium on the Promega Madison campus.
The Brazil Young Researcher Award program was created to acknowledge exceptional work by Brazilian students utilizing Promega products in their research. These student researchers were recognized for their achievements and were given the opportunity to present their innovative research to Promega scientists as part of a week-long immersive experience on the Promega campus.
Last summer, we announced our most ambitious sustainability goals ever. This year, as part of our annual reporting, we are proud to share that over 20% of our global electricity is supplied by renewable sources. This represents a ten-fold increase in our renewable energy usage over the past three years.
After a long hiatus sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Promega Art Showcase will return next week with a new exhibition titled “A Vibrant Welcome Back!”
Promega Art Showcase
Why is a biotechnology company hosting an art show?
At its core, science is rooted in creativity. Scientists investigate the unknown and search for novel solutions that can improve our quality of life. We believe that observing and creating art reenergizes the imagination, inspiring scientists to look from new perspectives and step outside of the norms.
Promega has hosted quarterly art showcases in the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center since 1996. These showcases are open to the public and have featured the work of local, national and international artists. Past shows have included sculptors, folk artists, photographers, and painters. The December-March show each year features artwork by Promega employees and their family members.
The 2022 Summer Art Showcase features the work of Derrick Buisch, a painter and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, alongside Bettina Madini, a European contemporary artist and fashion designer.
Today’s blog is written by Brady Musson, Director of Global Logistics at Promega.
Our priority is ensuring that Promega customers receive everything they need, exactly when they need it. As the Director of Global Logistics at Promega, that is my primary focus, and the expertise of my entire team. I want to assure you that we’re doing everything we can so you can focus on keeping your work moving.
There are many factors that go into realizing these goals, and I would like to take a moment to address how Promega is managing some of the recent challenges. Our long-term, sustainable approach to business helps us weather uncertainty and instability. Our strong network of relationships allows us to explore creative solutions when challenges arise. Above all, our employees are willing to do what it takes to support the important work being done by life scientists around the world.
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