PHILADELPHIA, PA, January 30, 2024
Alana O'Reilly had already set her sights on building a student research laboratory from the ground up. As co-founder and co-Executive Director of eCLOSE Institute, a non-profit citizen science organization, O’Reilly provides programs that train students, teachers, and adult learners in professional biomedicine cancer research.
The organization is slated to reach over 3,000 underserved students in the Philadelphia metro area in 2024. “We are steadily building a scientific community and making an impact delivering instructional models to teachers and students,” said O’Reilly, who holds a PhD in Cell and Development Biology from Harvard University and a BA in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania.
The creation of a dedicated Teaching Lab, she explained, would give hundreds of high-school students the opportunity to become research scientists onsite, ask important questions, solve problems, communicate scientific discoveries, and build a career support network.
“But we figured a proper laboratory would realistically take five-years and tens of thousands of fundraising dollars to accomplish,” remarked O’Reilly.
Fortunately, for eCLOSE and its new crop of budding scientists, the dream of having a functional laboratory came sooner than expected when it received an email from Inolex.
Would eCLOSE be interested in repurposing a chemistry laboratory in South Philadelphia and relocating it for their organization?
“Of course, we jumped at the opportunity!” said O’Reilly.
Inolex had been in the final stages of transitioning its office and laboratories from the company’s legacy South Philadelphia site to its new locations in 2023. Sustainability is at the heart of the company’s ethos as a responsible ingredient designer. Naturally, it was top priority during the site transition for Inolex to reuse equipment, find a new home for useful items, or recycle materials whenever possible.
“It just so happens we found a like-minded dedication to science and spirit of community when we reached out to eCLOSE,” said Michael Dall, CFO of Inolex.
In the autumn of 2023, both organizations set to work together, disassembling and moving the entire decommissioned lab from Inolex to the new eCLOSE home just north of Philadelphia in Glenside, PA. Lab equipment including cabinets, countertops, sink units, and more were part of the move.
The two science-led organizations found a great synergy in repurposing the fully functional laboratory to give it new life.
“It’s really great to see how this equipment will help students learn about science and community partnership,” said Craig Lawver, Inolex Shipping & Receiving Supervisor who was instrumental in the moving logistics of the laboratory.
According to O’Reilly, “This donation will transform our organization’s ability to engage hundreds of kids every year in original research aimed at discovering inexpensive, widely available ways to reduce preventable diseases."
And now, thanks to a fortuitous connection, many students will have the chance to work in a real science lab.
“It's really like a miracle for us as we begin our fifth year of work! I can't even articulate the scale of the impact. When these kids uncover cures for cancer, diabetes, mental health, you name it, Inolex will be mentioned as the catalyst for change,” said O’Reilly.
A ribbon cutting for the new eCLOSE laboratory is targeted for later this year.
For more information about the work of eCLOSE visit www.ecloseinstitute.org.
Alana O’Reilly, PhD, and Dara Ruiz-Whalen, PhD of the Fox Chase Cancer Center and eCLOSE Institute were the 2023 Viktor Hamburger Outstanding Educator Prize, created to honor individuals who have made outstanding and innovative contributions to teaching and learning. In 2022, O’Reilly and Ruiz-Whalen received the Genetics Society of America Elizabeth W. Jones Award in recognition of their "development of educational platforms that promote equity and safe spaces where students integrate life experience and culture with scientific ideas to address fundamental questions in genetics."
Inolex designs sustainable ingredients for health, beauty, and wellness. They design emerging technologies that ensure the safe and optimum performance of leading brands in more than 85 countries.
Inolex granted patents for Cationic Amino Lipid Technology
Bringing the most advanced, sustainable conditioning ingredients on the market to Korea and Brazil
Samantha Winterburn named 2024 Delaware Valley Young Engineer of the Year
Recognized for her love of science and passion for attracting more women to the field of engineering, Sam demonstrates excellence in action with this prestigious award.