Latest Posts

All Posts

SpyLigase Irreversibly Locks Peptides Together for Efficient Cell Capture

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Aug 13, 2014 11:49:04 AM

Mark Howarth’s lab at the University of Oxford is dedicated to generating new tools to manipulate biology based on molecular features found in nature, with the ultimate goal to improve the diagnosis of disease, and cancer in particular. They recently introduced the SpyTag/SpyCatcher system, based on a protein isolated from Streptococcus pyogenes that locks itself together, to produce irreversible protein-peptide interactions. In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in March, he and his colleagues took another important step forward by dissecting that S. pyogenes protein into three parts. Their efforts yielded a protein, which they call SpyLigase (Spy comes from the “S” in Streptococcus and the “py” in pyogenes), capable of locking two peptide tags together.

SpyLigase overcomes limitations in the use of peptide tags, which often form only weak and reversible bonds. Howarth’s team has already demonstrated in their PNAS paper that SpyLigase can be used to link affibodies or antibodies against common tumor markers to subsequently capture cancerous cells expressing low levels of tumor antigen. I asked Howarth to tell us more about SpyLigase, its development, and its potential uses.

Read More >

Topics: Hot Plasmids, Interview

Celebrating Accomplishments in the Lab

Posted by Margo R. Monroe on May 8, 2014 11:07:41 AM

The recent conversations with three lab heads have revealed that a combination of hard work, determination, passion, and patience are required to build and lead a productive and successful research lab. Once goals are reached, how do science labs celebrate accomplishments and their team's hard work? Do succesful scientists have time for fun and life outside of the lab? This final post in the PI Interview Series investigates how these three PIs reward their team and manage work-life balance.

How do you celebrate your lab’s achievements?

Tom Ellis highlights the importance of acknowledging his teams successes. “When PhD students graduate there has to be champagne, that's a given.” Furthermore, anyone leaving the lab receives send-off via a gift, card, and trip to the pub. Dr. Ellis adds “we probably don’t celebrate enough... I’ll ask my team at our next group meeting and see if we should start celebrating papers and grants too with pizza or pub.”

Read More >

Topics: Fun, Interview, Investigator Feature

Advice for Scientists Starting a Lab

Posted by Margo R. Monroe on Apr 29, 2014 9:43:00 AM

In the blink of an eye, the long days in the lab as a graduate student and postdoc come to an end and your next professional adventure begins. While many career pathways exist for scientists and engineers, a few brave scientists will choose to start their own academic research laboratory.

How does one even go about starting a lab? Obviously, funding and support are crucial parameters, and familiarity with equipment always helps. But how does one build a strong collaborative research team motivated by similar visions and goals? We continue our conversation with three PIs who have successfully built their own labs.

Read More >

Topics: Career, Interview, Investigator Feature, Career Readiness

Advice for Choosing a Research Project

Posted by Margo R. Monroe on Apr 17, 2014 10:45:00 AM

After joining a lab, the focus shifts to choosing an unexplored and impactful research topic that aligns with your interests. We've outlined some important factors to consider and summarize helpful advice from the successful PIs who were previously featured in "9 Tips to Achieve Success in Academia".

Read More >

Topics: Career, Interview, Investigator Feature

Finding and Joining Your Dream Lab

Posted by Margo R. Monroe on Apr 8, 2014 10:50:00 AM

Choosing a lab can be a major decision. A science trainee will spend 4-7 years working for one person and with a group who all strive for a common big-picture goal. It is worth doing some some serious pre-work to find a lab that will be a good fit for you and your career ambitions. First, how does one stand out amongst a pool of successful applicants and get chosen to work in his or her lab of choice? Is the group micromanaged or does it thrive in an off hands environment? Does the group expect each other to be physically present at certain times during the day?

We asked three lab heads how they go about selecting new hires. This is followed by some perhaps surprising, yet important, factors to consider when seeking your dream lab.

Read More >

Topics: Career, Interview, Investigator Feature, Career Readiness

Blog Logo Vertical-01.png

Subscribe to Our Blog