DTL Recipient of 2010 Northrope Frye Award Divisional

Division of Teaching Laboratories

Award of Excellence 2010 recipient

Northrop Frye Award (Departmental)

The Division of Teaching Laboratories (DTL) has a tremendous impact on the educational experience of students in the various Life Sciences programs. Laboratory courses, bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge acquired in didactic courses and practical hands-on experience which is vital in programs such as Biochemistry, Human Biology, Immunology, Medical Genetics, Pharmacology and Physiology.

Under the leadership of its director, Dr. Chris Perumalla, DTL has introduced many cutting-edge techniques in molecular biology, electrophysiology, proteomics, microarrays and animal surgery skills in several DTL-run courses. These techniques use expensive and sophisticated technology not often found at other universities, allowing U of T undergraduate students to prepare more than adequately for careers as research assistants, and graduate students.

An Academic Initiate Fund grant provided resources to link research and teaching and the program offers superior laboratory experience to students, allowing some of them to use state-of-the-art, real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction and microarray technologies. DTL also provides researchers in the Faculty of Medicine with supplies of bacteriological and yeast media for their research; the profits from this project are ploughed back into DTL budget and have been used to upgrade laboratory equipment and supplies. These new initiatives have enabled DTL to exemplify the new budget model at UofT.

Leo Wan, president of the Biochemistry Undergraduate Student Society, says in lab courses “students are finally allowed to see how powerful the current research toolbox is in deciphering biological mysteries. This certainly brings about an interest in research and a combination of this interest and knowledge gives us an upper hand in gaining summer research positions.”

In 2007, DTL in collaboration with New College has developed the Faculty of Medicine’s Youth Summer Program, which offers high school students the opportunity to experience the world of medicine and medical research. Every year, about 400 high school students from over 15 countries attend this program. One module took the SARS outbreak from 2003 and had students learn about microbiology and microbes directly from the people working on the outbreak at the time.