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Evolution of Lab Techniques

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jun 21, 2016 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by guest blogger, Krissy Lyon, a PhD candidate in Neuroscience at Harvard University.

Just as computers, cell phones, and cars become more technologically advanced leaving earlier versions obsolete, the techniques we use in lab are replaced by improved versions that save both time and money. Yet, knowledge of historical techniques comes in handy whether you are perusing classic papers or are brainstorming new technological innovations. Let’s take a look at three historical techniques: southern blotting, restriction mapping, and sequencing gels, as well as their modern equivalents and see what we can learn from their evolution.

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Topics: Fun, Lab Tips, Techniques

How to Keep a Lab Notebook for Bioinformatic Analyses

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jun 2, 2016 10:30:00 AM


This blog post was contributed by guest blogger Kate Palozola

Traditional lab notebooks just won't cut it for bioinformatics. All kinds of biologists are finding themselves using computational approaches to analyze large data sets (myself included) and we are faced with finding the best system to document these types of analyses and their results. We are adept at recording wet-lab experiments using a “traditional” lab notebook; however, keeping track of computation work comes with new sets of challenges. One challenge with computational analyses is to keep track of why you are doing what you are doing. Another common challenge is to keep track of what works, and what does not work. Careful documentation will keep you on task and will prevent you from getting lost in the wide word of informatics.

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Topics: Lab Tips

PiggyBac-ing Through the Genome Editing Field

Posted by Guest Blogger on May 31, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Addgene is proud to announce that we recently acquired the ability to distribute plasmids with the piggyBac™ transposon. These plasmids, when combined with a source of piggyBac™ transposase (available from Transposagen or a licensed distributor) allow you to quickly transfer a DNA sequence from the transposon vector to one of many TTAA sequences distributed throughout the genome. We encourage you to deposit your piggyBac™ transposon vectors with us to help us expand this useful resource. While Addgene cannot distribute plasmids with the piggyBac™ transposase itself, please read on to learn more about this exciting technology from the folks at Transposagen.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Genome Engineering

Plasmids 101: Colony PCR

Posted by Guest Blogger on May 12, 2016 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by guest blogger Beth Kenkel, a Research Assistant in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa. If you're interested in guest blogging, let us know!

Molecular cloning requires some method of screening colonies for the presence of an insert. Traditionally this has been done with restriction enzyme digest; however colony PCR can accomplish the same thing in less time and for less money. The key steps to colony PCR are: 1) design primers to detect the presence of your insert; 2) set up a standard PCR reaction (primers, dNTPs, polymerase) using the supernatant of lysed bacteria as template; and 3) run your PCR product on a gel to analyze product size. This blog post discusses some of the key things to consider when performing colony PCR.

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Topics: Plasmid How To, Plasmids 101, Protocols, Plasmid Cloning

The Challenges of Cell Culture

Posted by Guest Blogger on May 5, 2016 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by ATCC Outreach Scientist Nick Amiss.

Cell Culture in the Present Day

Cell culture is a widespread tool used in the fields of oncology, virology, immunology, microbiology, and pharmacology (many of which are represented in Addgene's Special Collections). Arguably, oncology has benefited most as cancer cells are amenable to culture in vitro. Virologists too have benefited from the ability to propagate viruses in cell culture; if there were no cells to infect, there would be no viable viruses to study. Interestingly, due to certain high profile problems surrounding cell culture over the last few decades some pharmacologists have tended to avoid cell culture in favour of biochemical assays followed by in vivo testing. The mantra being “you can’t trust those whacky cell lines”. This may certainly have been a valid concern for the discipline (or lack thereof) in times gone past but these days it’s never been easier to conduct high quality work in cell culture.

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Topics: Lab Tips

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