CityLab: A Biotechnology Learning Laboratory for Teachers and Students

Grant #: 5-R25-RR07591

Principal Investigator: Carl Franzblau, Ph.D.
Project Site: Boston University School of Medicine, 715 Albany Street, L3 Boston, MA 02118
Phone: 617-638-5320

Web Site:

Summary of Project

It is well documented that schools often lack the resources necessary to present students and their teachers modern-day, hands-on science, particularly with human health applications. CityLab, a regional biotechnology learning laboratory, provides such scientific experiences for middle and high school students and their teachers. Located in an urban medical center, CityLab is a partnership of scientists and educators at Boston University with greater Boston high school teachers. CityLab has state of the art equipment, four full time teachers and scientists providing laboratory opportunities for students and teachers on a daily basis. Since its 1992 inception, more than 20,000 students, 1/3 of whom are minorities, and 1/2 of whom are women, have used CityLab. This year, both CityLab and the MobileLab have been completely booked since Sept. 12/99. Seven problem-based laboratory modules are fully operable. The next SEPA phase has two goals in addition to maintenance of the present CityLab program: one is the development of a CityLab Scholars program, including the remodeling of the CityLab Academy; and the second is the on-going dissemination and evaluation of our programs. Above all, one needs to maintain the extremely successful CityLab program already in place. As part of this endeavor, we will address the unique MobileLab, an extension of BUSM CityLab, created with the help of SEPA funds. Different modes of MobileLab use will be explored. One of the dilemmas we face at CityLab is the lack of continuity that we have with our student visitors. In the beginning, we had to make a choice: do we allow several thousand students annually to partake in CityLab or do we allow relatively few students the opportunities CityLab has to offer but in greater depth? We chose the former, but we believe both are very valuable approaches. With the introduction of our Scholars Program in this grant, we believe we can offer both modalities. We plan to identify a subset of CityLab participants who will qualify as CityLab Scholars. These Scholars will participate in a well-structured program pathway, maintaining a continuity that will hopefully stimulate them to pursue a bioscience career. Summer Camp, research projects, assistantships, and counseling are all part of the Scholars Program designed to keep the students committed from their sophomore through their senior year. During the next three years, CityLab will continue and expand its biotechnology offerings to its community of students and teachers.


  1. "Boston University's Biosciences Education Program for Boston-area Students," D. DeRosa & B.L. Wolfe, Academic Medicine, vol. 74, #4, April 1999, pp 326 - 328.

  2. "Mystery of the Crooked Cell," D. DeRosa & C. Phillips, The American Biology Teacher, vol. 61., no. 2, February 1999.


  1. NABT, NSTA, Bio-Link; biotechnology education meetings and conferences upon request


  1. CityLab has seven curriculum modules in molecular biology & biotechnology. See our web site for details.

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