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Presentation Type


Degree Type



Health Sciences


Beverly Barham

Mentor Department

Health Sciences


Deborah Johnson

Co-Mentor Department

Health Sciences


All students in the Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) cohort of 2021 (n=22) participated in a course based undergraduate research experience (CURE) in the fall semester 2019. The 5 basic components for a CURE include: 1) use of multiple scientific practices, 2) the outcome is unknown, 3) there is a broader relevance or importance beyond this classroom experience, 4) collaboration is essential among students and instructors, and 5) iteration is built into the process. Members of this MLS cohort took on the role of primary researcher in an applied research protocol by collecting, analyzing, and reporting data from specimens they collected from residential plumbing determining the incidence of opportunistic mycobacteria present. MLS students assembled the collection kits and then collected specimens from residential plumbing faucets (bathroom sink, bathtub, showerhead, kitchen sink, or laundry room sinks). Each student analyzed the specimens they collected for the presence of opportunistic mycobacteria. Opportunistic mycobacteria are included as one of five different opportunistic plumbing pathogens that can be found in residential plumbing. An Auramine O fluorescent antibody stain, specific for opportunistic mycobacteria, was performed on each specimen. The data for the applied research portion indicated that 7% (n=44) of the specimens collected were positive for opportunistic mycobacteria in the residential plumbing specimens. City water was the water source for all faucets tested and specimens originated from 6 different zip code areas. These same MLS students then reflected on the overall CURE experience as the human subjects involved in this research. Students were asked to complete 4 short anonymous surveys regarding the areas of the IRB process, the collection protocol, the fluorescent staining process, and meeting the objectives of a CURE. The data generated from these reflections indicated students felt they had a better understanding of the IRB process, the collection protocol was efficient, there was agreement that the staining and interpretation of the modified Auramine O fluorescent staining was a positive experience, and that the overall CURE experience met the parameters of a true CURE. This CURE model included all students and provided equal access and an equitable experience as a part of their class participation.


Authors: Angela Brown, Hannah Swanson, Valerie Wozniak, Ewurabena Okai, Erin Brown, Lisseth Bustamante, Jane Barlett, Holli Winter

Infusing a Cure into the Medical Laboratory Science Program

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