Healthcare is continually evolving thanks to technology. And because of a $10,790 grant to SIU School of Medicine’s Plastic Surgery Research Lab, two new incubators with the latest features are being utilized.
The incubators are replacements for two units that started being used 30 years ago.
“The incubators are used in research experiments because they replicate conditions in the human body,” said Carrie Harrison, research laboratory coordinator for the Institute for Plastic Surgery. “One element of producing quality research is having resources that allow us to keep pace with the advances in research. The updated features in these incubators allow us to generate better data as the environment better simulates conditions in the human body.”
The new incubators can reproduce conditions such as temperature, humidity and gas levels. They also have a sterilization cycle, similar to a self-cleaning oven, in which Harrison just pushes a button for the process to begin. The old incubators had to be manually cleaned.
Cells are living in the incubators 365 days a year thanks to work being done by researchers and residents in the Institute for Plastic Surgery. Medical students at SIU School of Medicine also have the opportunity to participate in research projects.
“Cells in petri dishes are often the first step in a research project,” Harrison said. “This format of experimentation offers the researcher the opportunity to focus on one aspect of an experiment without the confounding variables of an in vivo experiment.”
It is typical for several projects in various stages of completion to be underway at the same time.
“Translational research advances science and health care simultaneously. The overarching goal of every project we execute is improving healthcare in the communities that we serve,” Harrison said.