Virtual Labs Teach Research SkillsSeptember 16, 2020
In response to the transition to virtual learning, Marina D’Angelo, PhD, and her team
created a virtual research laboratory experience for students.
In the spring of 2020, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), like many other institutions across the country, transitioned to virtual learning. This transition was carried out to help slow the spread of COVID-19. In response to this quick transition, Marina D’Angelo, PhD, professor, Bio-Medical Sciences, Patrisia Mattioli, senior research assistant and
their team worked diligently to construct a virtual research laboratory experience
that would enable their work study students and volunteers to continue learning the skills they would need to work in research
Over the course of 10 weeks students were assigned a series of webinars from institutions
such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC). They were also assigned complimentary
articles from medical journals and met virtually every week to review what they had
learned. During this time students learned essential skills such as how to properly
make ribonucleic acid (RNA), how to set up a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the
correct protocol for culturing primary cells.
“Our goal in developing these virtual labs was to prepare students for real-world
application,” shared Dr. D’Angelo. “The webinars that the students watch cover techniques
that they would learn in the labs. The articles they read and the discussion that
follows ensures that the techniques are sinking in,” Dr. D’Angelo continued. “We have
also given our work/study students a deliverable for their time. They can show what
they’ve learned and how they plan to use it in the future. Additionally, we’ve found
that these students have a deeper understanding of why we follow certain protocols.”
In total, this group consisted of 11 students from the Master's in Biomedical Sciences and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine programs. This group will continue their virtual learning and research during the
fall 2020 term. The students in this group have also had the opportunity to work alongside researchers and assist them with on-going manuscripts.
“Overall, the students in this group have shared that this was a very positive experience,”
shared Dr. D’Angelo. Going forward, Dr. D’Angelo hopes to share what her team has
learned with other colleges and universities. “Since there is a very limited literature
available on this topic, my team and I are currently working on presenting this idea
to medical journals nationwide, so that other institutions can implement a similar
Learn more about research at PCOM.
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About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands
of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists
who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms.
PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic
medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in
applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic
medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership
and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician
assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration.
PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service
to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care
to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.
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