Friday, January 9, 2009

Recipe: Project Meat Glue

While I am awaiting the conversation with Jacquin about intellectual property (patent-related stuff), I thought I would mention that today was the first time I was in a "closed" meeting. In my entire life. The meeting was at the Broad Institute (so you know - it's said Brode, not Broad - I looked like an idiot the first time I said it, so...yes). That's the place responsible for the Human Genome Project (it's right across the street from where I work). Anyway, it was a meeting of a consortium for infectious diseases, and it talked about novel drug discovery for malaria. I don't know - it just strikes me as kind of interesting how much science can be hampered by IP...yes, it does protect people and their discoveries, but does it do the best for humanity? I'm torn.

Anyways--back to your regularly scheduled blog post:

Lab protocols are very similar to recipes, but as one of my fellow lab members pointed out, "You don't get to eat anything at the end."

-list of ingredients = cells, proteins, reagents

-cookware = equipment in the lab: all sorts of machines and incubators and such

-directions = protocol for doing the experiment

Much like cooking, if you are making something you have never made before (even if someone else gave you the exact recipe) you might have troubles the first time. Maybe it's the humidity. Or your cells weren't "happy" (industry slang for stressed and low on nutrients). Or maybe you added ingredients in the wrong order unintentionally. Either way, there is a lot you have to do before you can even get started in the lab, hence the fact that my "working in the lab" this week is actually me reading lots of papers, doing lots of internet searches, and preparing an introductory powerpoint presentation for a lab meeting in two weeks. This has to include a background, as well as things like specifics about what you are adding and doing.

For project meat glue, the first step is working out the ingredients, and that requires oodles of database searches, looking for exactly the right flavor of what I need...then deciding which equipment is best and going through with things. All with the help of the other folks in lab - in this case, when you are learning, there are never too many cooks in the kitchen. = recipe.

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