6 Essential Biomedical Labs Skills for Career Building

Ginelle Testa

Career readiness is always on the minds of students and teachers, both at the high school and university levels. As students think about future career tracks in biomedicine, specific skills are needed to build up their readiness. They can begin thinking about them in the classroom.

We’ve identified six essential biomedical lab skills from Northeastern’s “Top 8 Skills for Success in a Biomedical Science Career.” Each lab skill is for biomedical career building, and we’ve included accompanying virtual labs to help instructors teach them. 

1. Identifying blood groups

Identifying blood groups is essential for biomedical scientists because knowing a person's blood group can be crucial in a number of medical situations. For example, suppose a person needs a blood transfusion. In that case, it is vital to match the donor's blood group with the recipient's blood group in order to prevent potentially life-threatening complications.

In Labster’s simulation, Antibodies: Why are some blood types incompatible? Students will learn about the concepts of antibodies and antigens, the ABO and Rhesus blood grouping systems, and their importance in blood transfusions. Then, they’ll help a young couple determine a potential risk for Rhesus disease in their unborn child.

Hand in virtual lab is pipetting a drop of water onto the circles of Eldon card 1 to identify blood groups.

2. Analyzing cell cultures 

Analyzing cell cultures is important for biomedical scientists because it helps them better understand the biological processes that occur within cells and how they may be affected by different conditions. This knowledge can then be used to develop new treatments and therapies for various diseases and conditions.

In Labster’s simulation, Cell Culture Basics, students will learn how to culture cells in a controlled environment. They’ll perform the different steps to keep them healthy by using a standard cell culture protocol for eukaryotic cells. They’ll also learn the aseptic technique.

3. Data analysis

Data analysis is crucial for biomedical scientists because it allows them to understand and interpret the results of their experiments and research. By analyzing data, they can identify trends and patterns in the data, which can help them to draw conclusions and make informed decisions. Data analysis is also essential for communicating research findings to others, as it provides a clear and concise way to present complex data sets. 

In Labster’s simulation, Cellular Respiration (Principles): Measure energy consumption during exercise, students will help local basketball players understand how the food they eat gets converted to energy through cellular respiration. Use a mouse model to find out what effect exercise intensity has on oxygen and glucose consumption. This data will be compared to the experimental exercise data collected.

Virtual lab simulation measuring the person's current lactic acid concentration in cellular respiration lab.

4. DNA Sequencing 

DNA sequencing can be used to study the functions of genes, the evolution of species, and the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. For example, DNA sequencing can be used to identify mutations in a person's DNA that may be associated with a particular disease or condition. It can also be used to identify the presence of particular pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria, in a sample.

In Labster’s simulation, Gene Expression Unit: Use sequencing to unveil a gene linked to obesity, students will use Next Generation Sequencing by analyzing the mRNA from pig tissues and identify a new gene linked to obesity. They’ll confirm their results using qPCR to analyze the expression levels of their gene.

5. Enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA)

ELISA is a widely used analytical technique in biomedical research and clinical laboratories. It’s a sensitive and specific method for detecting and quantifying molecules of interest. It’s an important tool for biomedicine because it allows people to study the function and regulation of these molecules in health and disease.

In Labster’s simulation, ELISA, students will join scientists who are using a groundbreaking technique for detecting and quantifying substances, such as proteins. The method is called Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). They’ll help Dr. Lisa quantify Factor IX protein, which is used for hemophilia drugs.

An enzyme labeled antibody is bound to the first antibody in a virtual lab.

6. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

PCR is an essential tool because it allows scientists to make many copies of a specific DNA region quickly and accurately. It’is useful for various purposes, such as analyzing genetic diseases, identifying bacteria or viruses, and studying evolution. PCR is also used in forensic science to identify individuals from small samples of DNA, such as hair or blood. 

In Labster’s simulation, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), students will be thrown right into a crime scene where a murder has taken place. After investigating the crime scene, their first task is to collect blood samples in the hope that the murderer has left traces of their DNA.

Questions For Consideration:

  • What are some other ways your biomedical students learn career readiness skills?
  • What are other biomedical skills students will need to know? Try a search of Labster’s catalog to discover virtual labs that match each skill.

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