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The University of Iowa Laryngeal Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory

Biosafety Cabinet at the University of Iowa Laryngeal Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory Provides Safe and Energy-Efficient Environment

Many professionals depend on using their voices, but schoolteachers happen to be most at risk for developing voice problems. Studies show that teachers are up to 32 times more likely to experience voice damage than people within other occupations.

Uncovering voice problems begins at the molecular level. The University of Iowa Laryngeal Molecular and Cell Biology Lab is one of a handful of laboratories in the United States exploring the science of voice production and the cellular processes behind it. Their work involves uncovering what destroys the voice but also what may help to heal it.

Specifically, the laboratory examines changes to living tissues due to short- and long-term vibration exposure. To accomplish this, the lab uses a rheometer, which administers vibrations and measures their effects on cells. The experiments necessitate a system that supports long-term growth of cells and near-sterile conditions. Therefore, the laboratory is equipped with two biological safety cabinets from Baker. The Baker SterilGARD e3 provides a near-sterile atmosphere for the cells, housing the rheometers and custom
incubators. Additionally, a SterilGARD houses cell culture work.

A single experiment can last up to a month, therefore near-sterile conditions are paramount to the integrity of the research. Since the cabinet must remain on at all times, the SterilGARD e3’s ReadySAFE™ mode is heavily utilized. The ReadySAFE function allows the cabinet to continuously operate and maintain safe conditions while the viewscreen is closed. Exclusive to Baker, the ReadySAFE technology permits the user to leave the cabinet for long periods of time, or overnight, and it also cuts energy use dramatically.

Because the experiments use supporting experimental equipment, including the rheometer and incubator, the cabinet’s cable port system is a crucial element for the lab. In Baker cabinets, cable ports pass through negative pressure side walls, providing convenient access to cables and tubing with an unobstructed work area.

Understanding cell pathways involved in vocalization is leading to a comprehension of how the voice is stressed or damaged. The research at The University of Iowa could result in new treatments to help heal damaged voices, or prevent damage altogether. In doing so, the work can serve to help not just teachers, but telecommunications staff, members of the clergy, counselors, and singers