World TB Day: Microbiology labs open doors to area high school students

By Jackson Watkins

Students from Colorado high schools will have a chance to view scientists at work on Monday, March 25, as part of CSU’s celebration of World TB Day. This annual event raises awareness of a disease that kills 1.5 million people around the world each year.

More than 150 researchers in the CSU Mycobacteria Research Laboratories investigate TB in a variety of ways, from identifying factors that help diagnosis disease, to generating potential vaccines that can prevent its spread. Through demonstrations and hands-on activities, they will explain the scientific method and the design that goes into experimentation. The event allows the community to connect with researchers and inspire students to pursue careers in science.

“It helps to get the word out that we’re doing groundbreaking work in field of TB research. It also helps to enlighten people about the ongoing global issue; many of them have no clue that tuberculosis is a problem,” said CSU assistant professor Nicole Kruh-Garcia, who has organized the event for the past six years.

Her colleague, associate professor Karen Dobos, says students will connect with this year’s keynote speaker. “She is a current CSU student who was sick as a child, but never understood the ‘what and why’ until she changed her major to Microbiology. Her story reminds us all that this disease doesn’t care about borders.”

Every year, World TB Day pays homage to Dr. Robert Koch, who, in 1882,  discovered that tuberculosis was caused by bacteria that colonize the lungs of infected individuals. Since then, treatment has become widely available in the United States, nearly eliminating the disease from both our bodies and minds.

But, this treatable disease still plagues much of the globe, killing more people in 2017 than any other infectious disease. Research continues to move forward at CSU, and across the planet, in hopes of finding more effective ways to eliminate the disease entirely.

three students in white lab coats
High School students will have the chance to experience work in a microbiology lab. (CSU photo)

Hands-on activities with real scientists

Meet CSU researchers, clinicians, and public-health officials who work on TB in humans and natural animal hosts.

Activities include:

  • Mock BSL-3 experience – Practice wearing the personal protective equipment required for work in a Biosafety Level 3 laboratory.
  • Use microscopes to view samples of lung tissue, gaining an understanding of how tissue appears as infection progresses.
  • Use laboratory techniques to identify bacterial proteins and nucleic acids.
  • Use tests now under development to diagnose TB with urine and blood samples from infected individuals.
  • Analyze data to understand molecular interactions between a host and bacilli.
  • Tour the Research Innovation Center, which opened in 2010 as a hub for developing new technologies to diagnose and treat infectious diseases.

Click here for more information on the event, and for teacher/student registration.

9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday, March 25

Research Innovation Center, 3185-A Rampart Road, Colorado State University Foothills Campus