Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program hosts more than 12,000 scientists from around the world each year on its campuses in Long Island and in Suzhou, China. The Laboratory’s education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and programs for middle and high school students and teachers.
Then in 1988, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory established the DNA Learning Center (DNALC) as the world's first science center devoted entirely to public genetics education. Founder and executive director David Micklos anticipated that there would be huge gaps in science curricula taught at even the finest schools and conceived a program that would better prepare students in 5th through 12th grades (and their families) to thrive in the gene age. The DNALC is the largest provider of biotechnology instruction at the precollege level in the United States, operating six teaching laboratories in Cold Spring Harbor, Lake Success, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Each year 30,000 precollege students conduct hands-on experiments at the DNALC or receive intensive lab instruction from DNALC staff at their schools.