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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

Plasmids 101: Optimizing Plasmid Yields

Posted by Julian Taylor-Parker on May 26, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Most of the time, plasmid prepping is a breeze. You get your stab from Addgene, streak for single colonies, sub-culture, and prep with one of the many commercially available DNA prep kits or your lab's favorite in-house protocol. DNA yields for this procedure are typically in excess of 100 ng/ul, more than enough DNA to proceed with most applications, such as PCR, cloning, transfection, or long-term storage. But what about those pesky situations where your plasmid yield is sub-optimal? If you have already purifed your plasmid, you can try to concentrate the DNA using a speed-vac, ethanol precipitation, or other chromatographic methods. But wouldn't it be nice to avoid an extra concentration step? If you are consistently getting sub-optimal plasmid yields from your prep, you may want to consider optimizing your growth conditions. In this blog, we will outline many of the variables that could affect DNA yields and suggest steps to super-charge your plasmid preps.

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Topics: Lab Tips, Plasmids 101

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

Getting the Most from Your Lentiviral Transduction

Posted by Meghan Rego on Apr 7, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Lentiviruses are a powerful laboratory tool often employed to establish cell lines that stably express a gene of interest. While the general approach for using lentivirus, infect and select, seems simple, in actuality, many find using lentivirus to be time consuming, difficult, and lacking in reproducibility. Read on for some tips for getting the most out of your lentiviral transduction experiments.

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Topics: Lab Tips, Viral Vectors

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