Directing the Evolution of Bacteria to Clean Up Toxic Waste

$1,421
Raised of $12,000 Goal
12%
Ended on 9/15/13
Campaign Ended
  • $1,421
    pledged
  • 12%
    funded
  • Finished
    on 9/15/13

About This Project

Heavy metal pollution is more common than most people realize and it causes serious environmental and health problems.

Our research aims to clean up this toxic waste using organisms modified by a process called directed evolution.

Ask the Scientists

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What is the context of this research?


Our research project's goal is to build on our current results by directing the evolution of a common bacterium, P. aeruginosa, to make it clean up heavy metal pollution in our communities. After we reach this initial goal, we plan to continue our work by producing the microbes and distributing them to polluted areas; we'll be taking an active part by actually going out and applying the valuable knowledge that we'll gain.

We will use this opportunity to establish our research team permanently. Our career goals are to continue to research and work on projects that use innovative science to improve the world around us. We hope to reduce current pollution problems, prevent future pollution, and make our world a greener and happier place.

What is the significance of this project?


Heavy metal pollution is more common that most people realize. Not limited to Superfund sites and areas of intensive industry, the problem of metal pollution can often be found right outside your home, school, or workplace. Roadways and cars are now a large source of heavy metals, with lead, copper, cadmium, and chromium being among the many metals that can be found in road runoff. You might even find them in your food.

Devastating to human health, an excess of heavy metals can result in conditions ranging from vital organ damage to reduced mental and CNS function, slowly progressing physical, muscular, and neurological degeneration akin to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, cancer, and even death. And we are not alone; the environment and the wildlife in it are all at risk as well.

Specialized microbes offer an inexpensive, efficient, and eco-friendly method of degrading the toxic waste; potentially even including the ability to recover the valuable metals once they have been detoxified. With our team of seasoned advisors, the intellectual support of our local scientific community, a lot of work, and your contributions, we are confident that this project can result in a cleaner, greener environment for all of us.

What are the goals of the project?


The majority of your contributions will go towards supplies and equipment: petri plates, growth media, an incubator, etc.

A small portion will go towards us, the researchers, so we can get the hours upon hours of work done.

The final portion will go towards moving our project from our university lab to a private lab at the Helix Center Biotech Incubator in Saint Louis, MO. There we will have access to state-of-the-art equipment, hazardous waste disposal, advanced security, and resources and connections to take our results to the next step: the creation of an inexpensive product to combat pollution and potentially reclaim valuable resources.

As contributors, you should feel confident that your money will go towards making a real, tangible difference in the world. We plan to follow this project with the creation of a sustainable bioremediation startup!

Budget

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Your contributions will go towards supplies (petri plates, growth media, incubator, etc.), work, and lab space at the Helix Center Biotech Incubator.


We require a minimum of $12,000 and, if we reach our stretch goal of $16,000, we'll be able to add experiments and supplies that will increase the likelihood of success, including the possibility of reclaiming valuable metals.

Meet the Team

David B. Finkelstein
David B. Finkelstein
Inventor, Researcher, and Biotechnology Entrepreneur

Affiliates

David is a biochemistry student studying at Maryville University of St. Louis.

He was accepted to and graduated from the Bio Entrepreneur Development Program at the Center for Emerging Technologies in St. Louis, Missouri.

He is currently serving as Director-at-Large, Chair of the Web Committee, and the Science SIG Coordinator for St. Louis Area Mensa.

He also invented a computer-to-brain interface and founded NeuraComm, a start-up biotech firm.

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Jenny Tran
Jenny Tran
Microbiology Researcher

Team Bio

David Finkelstein is a biotech entrepreneur and biochemistry student. He spends his time pondering the universe, sponging up science knowledge, researching in the lab, and working on this geeky thing he invented called the NeuraComm. When he’s not concentrating on his research, business, and inventions, he can be found reading, rock climbing, camping, or building manly bonfires.

Jenny Tran holds a Bachelor of Science in biology with a concentration in biotechnology. She has a knack for organization and detail, and she loves all things microbiology-related. When she's not working her 9-5 job or reading textbooks for fun, you can find her in the lab OCD-ing over David's aseptic technique, soaking up nature at the park, or cooking up tasty edibles in her kitchen.

Professor Telford is the team’s advisor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Biological Inorganic Chemistry. His Ph.D. research at UC-Berkeley focused on microbial siderophores: small-molecule iron-chelating compounds. After receiving his Ph.D., Dr. Telford worked on laser-triggered protein folding as an NIH sponsored post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Telford is author or co-author on 20 peer-reviewed publications, an expert in metal chelation, and has been on the faculty of the University of Iowa, Tufts University, Simmons College and is currently at Maryville University in St. Louis, MO.

David is the outside-the-box thinker of the team, with ideas overflowing out of every orifice. Jenny's area of expertise is in lab methodology and she oversees experiment quality control. Dr. Telford brings a breadth of experience in areas such as metal chelation, good lab practices, and the field of biochemistry as a whole. Their radically different lab skills mesh together well, and they plan on combining their efforts to bring to life scientific research that will make a difference in your everyday life and the world as a whole.

David B. Finkelstein

David Finkelstein is a biotech entrepreneur and biochemistry student. He spends his time pondering the universe, sponging up science knowledge, researching in the lab, and working on this geeky thing he invented called the NeuraComm. When he’s not concentrating on his research, business, and inventions, he can be found reading, rock climbing, camping, or building manly bonfires.

Jenny Tran holds a Bachelor of Science in biology with a concentration in biotechnology. She has a knack for organization and detail, and she loves all things microbiology-related. When she's not working her 9-5 job or reading textbooks for fun, you can find her in the lab OCD-ing over David's aseptic technique, soaking up nature at the park, or cooking up tasty edibles in her kitchen.

Professor Telford is the team’s advisor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Biological Inorganic Chemistry. His Ph.D. research at UC-Berkeley focused on microbial siderophores: small-molecule iron-chelating compounds. After receiving his Ph.D., Dr. Telford worked on laser-triggered protein folding as an NIH sponsored post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Telford is author or co-author on 20 peer-reviewed publications, an expert in metal chelation, and has been on the faculty of the University of Iowa, Tufts University, Simmons College and is currently at Maryville University in St. Louis, MO.

David is the outside-the-box thinker of the team, with ideas overflowing out of every orifice. Jenny's area of expertise is in lab methodology and she oversees experiment quality control. Dr. Telford brings a breadth of experience in areas such as metal chelation, good lab practices, and the field of biochemistry as a whole. Their radically different lab skills mesh together well, and they plan on combining their efforts to bring to life scientific research that will make a difference in your everyday life and the world as a whole.

Additional Information

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Thanks for your consideration. Help us clean up our world; we look forward to working with you!




Project Backers

  • 11Backers
  • 12%Funded
  • $1,421Total Donations
  • $129.18Average Donation
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