This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies. Click the X to clear this message or follow the link for Additional Information.

DNA Sequences Begin In Wheeler Lab

by Meryl Willett, Strategic Communications Office
PROVIDENCE --  Five Wheeler School graduates have had DNA sequences published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information Database (NCBI), GenBank that grew from work done in a Wheeler Molecular Biology course.

The students from the Wheeler Class of 2018, Jesse Kase, Amy Lousararian, Madeline Murphy, Isabella Romo, and Alden Weinberg, along with their Upper School Science Teacher Dr. Donna Lizotte, carried out a semester-long molecular biology project focusing on cloning the GAPDH (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase) gene from various plant species. After months of bioinformatics analysis and evaluation of their DNA sequences, the students submitted their data to NCBI last spring and saw official publication in November.
“This full-year course is part of a larger Molecular Biology program created by Dr. Lizotte that offers students the potential for advanced level laboratory work and research opportunities. Many Wheeler students have moved on to college programs in Molecular Biology, leaving Wheeler with a skill set that many college science undergrads are still learning,” said Sarah Berthiaume Leduc, N-12 Science Department Chair at Wheeler.

Three additional Wheeler graduates cloned and sequenced another gene and will submit their work to the NCBI for publication Winter 2018. As the Molecular Biology program continues to grow, Wheeler is seeking opportunities to collaborate with local universities and hospitals to offer these trained students the opportunity to volunteer in science labs within the Rhode Island community.

“While being the first author on a scientific publication before graduating high school is an incredible feat, I am most grateful for the experience of working collaboratively with a group of incredibly smart and curious students with guidance from an inspiring and passionate female scientist,” said Madeline Murphy,  Boston College, pre-med track majoring in the Philosophy concentration Science, Ethics & Humanity with a minor in Medical Humanities.

Dr. Lizotte, a veteran faculty member at The Wheeler School, is a recipient of a Teacher Scholarship from New England Biolabs to attend the Molecular Biology Summer Workshop hosted by Smith College, where she studied the most recent cutting-edge protocols in Molecular Biology. These are not the first Wheeler students to publish their scientific work. Alumna Karina Verma cloned and published two genes while a senior at Wheeler in Dr. Lizotte’s lab in 2010.  
She is a third-year medical student at Drexel University.

To learn more about The Wheeler School and the Upper School science department visit The Wheeler School on Sunday, January 6, 2019, for the Winter Admissions Showcase. Visit:

Links to Projects:

216 Hope Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02906-2246
Phone: (401) 421-8100
FAX: (401) 751-7674

Founded 1889

The Wheeler School is an independent coeducational college preparatory day school for Nursery, Pre-K, K-Grade 12 serving Providence, RI, Greater Providence and Greater Boston. The Hamilton School welcomes Grades 1-8 with language-based learning differences.