Featured Project

September 26, 2018


Developing a new tissue preservation method inspired by Tardigrades

There are two common methods to preserve cell-culture tissue samples used for biomedical research. One way is to use formaldehyde or formalin. This method is great at maintaining cell structure, but damages important DNA or proteins. The other method is to flash-freeze tissues using liquid nitrogen, which is great at preserving proteins and DNA, but expensive.

This experiment is inspired by the environmentally-resilient Tardigrade. Tardigrade species can survive extreme conditions, such as exposure to extreme temperatures, radiation, and starvation. Most importantly, they can survive desiccation, which is extreme dryness in waterless environment.

This project will test a new method to preserve genetic information in tissue samples, and then compare the methods' effectiveness over several months. Their goal is to develop a new method which could speed up field-based clinical work.

Featured Results

Crowdfunded scientific discoveries

Puerto Rico tree study recommends immediate effort to increase urban canopy cover lost during hurricanes Irma and María

A year has passed since hurricanes María and Irma hit Puerto Rico. As part of the recovery since then, Sofia Lora and a team of undergrads at University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras worked with FEMA to assess the damage to the urban tree ecosystems.

The $5,545 provided by 51 Experiment backers helped the team to quickly gather data on the residential trees post hurricane. The results are now published in a report for the U.S. Forest Service, and shared with backers.

This report is being used to aid the decision-making process as Puerto Rico continues to recover.

Sofia ended her results lab note with:

"Your contributions allowed us to do what we love when we had no means, no hope and felt powerless. We walked our roads, we talked to our people, we helped who we could, we measured our trees and we accomplished."

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