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Grad School Advice Part 2: Building Community

Posted by Tyler Ford on Oct 6, 2016 10:30:00 AM

In this second episode of our two-part series, we continue our conversation with Niroshi Senaratne and Ben Vincent from the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at Harvard University and pick their brains on how they've managed to keep themselves happy during their time in grad school
. As you'll learn, grad school has its ups and downs for everyone but you can come out on top if you leverage your community, think hard about picking a good mentor, and begin considering career options early. Tune in for great advice on all of these topics.

Listen to Part 1 Here

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Topics: Career, Science Communication, Podcast, Mentoring for Scientists

Sequencing Options for CRISPR Genotyping

Posted by Guest Blogger on Oct 4, 2016 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by guest blogger Søren Hough, the Head Science Writer at Desktop Genetics.

One of the most important steps in the CRISPR experimental process is validating edits. Regardless of which CRISPR genome editing system you use, there remains a chance that the observed phenotype was caused by an off-target mutation and not an edit in the target gene.

The validation process, also known as CRISPR genotyping, is critical to demonstrating causal relationships between genotype and assayed phenotype. Verifying these connections can help alleviate the reproducibility crisis in biology. It is key to address these concerns as CRISPR use grows across the life sciences and to establish standardized validation techniques for academia, industry, and especially the clinic.

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Topics: CRISPR

Technique: Probe Phage Genomes for Host Binding Proteins

Posted by Guest Blogger on Sep 29, 2016 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by guest blogger, Jessica Sacher, a microbiology PhD student at the University of Alberta studying with the Szymanski lab.

Reasons to Study How a Phage Recognizes Its Host

Bacteriophages (viruses that prey on bacteria) may be the most numerous and most diverse biological entities on our planet, but we still know collectively little about how they infect and influence the evolution of their bacterial prey. Currently, receptor binding proteins (RBPs, the host recognition factors of phages) constitute one of the most popular classes of phage proteins to study. These are highly useful for the biotech industry, which is in the process of capitalizing on phage RBPs as diagnostic tools and therapeutics. In addition, the strategic use of whole phages as therapeutics, which is also gaining a lot of new traction lately (1, 2), depends on knowledge of the structure(s) a given phage will recognize on a host cell.

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Topics: Protocols, Techniques, Microbiology

Four Factors that Differentiate the Stem Cell Field

Posted by Eric J. Perkins on Sep 28, 2016 10:35:00 AM

When our Director of Biology, Lianna Swanson, suggested that I might be able to attend the 10 Years of iPSCs Symposium earlier this year, I jumped at the chance. Here was an opportunity to see Shinya Yamanaka celebrate the tenth anniversary of his landmark Cell paper showing that it was possible to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) capable of forming nearly all cell types in the body from otherwise terminally differentiated cells simply by expressing four proteins Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and cMyc (the so called OSKM factors). As the Yamanaka lab's primary Addgene contact for many years, I've been looking forward to seeing how the sharing of his OSKM factors have affected the stem cell community – a community largely created due to Yamanaka’s seminal work.

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Topics: Stem Cells

Tips for Writing a Good Cover Letter

Posted by Maria Soriano on Sep 27, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Scientists, like many other professionals, change jobs at some point in their careers. Sometimes this is a change from one academic institution to another, while other times it is a total turn in career path. Career paths for scientists are very broad and diverse. A Scientist’s education, background, and training make his/her professional profile very appealing not only for academia, but also for biotech companies, consulting and editorial firms, legal and communication offices, and many other industries. The cover letter, the first piece of an applicant’s writing read by any hiring manager or recruiter, is often the first way a scientist gets a foot in the door for any one of these positions. Read on for tips on writing a great cover letter so that you’ll always make a good first impression.

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Topics: Career

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