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Addgene's Tips for Plasmid Quality Control

Posted by Julian Taylor-Parker on Jan 14, 2016 10:30:00 AM

One of the best things about sharing plasmids through Addgene is that we provide an added level of confidence in the plasmids we distribute through our quality control processes. Every plasmid we receive is rigorously verified before becoming available to the community.

This is no small task, however, at a repository that consistently receives around 200 new DNA samples every week. Here we will provide an inside look at the steps we take to verify the identity and quality of the plasmids we make available and provide some advice on the steps you can take to verify your own plasmids.

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Topics: Plasmid How To, Inside Addgene, Lab Tips

Tips from the Repository Trenches: Using Barcodes to Track Samples

Posted by Amanda Hazen on Oct 6, 2015 10:30:00 AM

Every plasmid sample enters Addgene the same way. A package is delivered by a mail courier and then the journey of transformation and storage begins. Some samples are submitted as bacterial colonies in petri dishes, but close to 80% of samples are received as DNA in a microcentrifuge tube. Once a sample enters Addgene’s lab, a series of events is triggered. Each step is tracked through barcoded tubes that are scanned into our Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), a database we use to keep track of and manage all of the samples that come through our doors. It would be a nightmare if we didn’t have a simple way to track all of our 40,000 samples available for distribution!

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Topics: Inside Addgene, Lab Tips

Important Considerations in Optogenetics Behavioral Experiments

Posted by Guest Blogger on Oct 1, 2015 10:30:00 AM

This post is part of our Primer on Optogenetics and was contributed by guest blogger Derek Simon.

The actual experiments you do will be determined by the topic you’re interested in studying, but, in today’s post, we’ll discuss some of the important considerations you should think about when developing optogenetics behavioral experiments. There are far too many behaviors that have utilized optogenetics to be fully summarized in a short blog post, but some examples I’m personally interested in include: intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) and place preference. The lab I work in (the Kreek lab) focuses on the neurobiology of addictive diseases, which means we are interested in circuits that mediate drug taking behavior. If a circuit reinforces behavior (activation of the circuit promotes subsequent, repeated activation), this is an approximation of reward or the sense of pleasure that the animal perceives through taking a drug. The ideal behaviors to test reinforcement are ICSS and place preference.

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Topics: Optogenetics, Lab Tips, Primer on Optogenetics

IDP and your PI: A Roadmap for Career Planning and Personal Development

Posted by Mary Gearing on Jul 21, 2015 10:30:00 AM

As we get closer to the start of another academic year, graduate students and post-docs alike are wondering where the time has gone. Are we any closer to graduating, publishing that key paper, or figuring out a career path? Many trainees are developing Individual Development Plans (IDP's) through Science Careers’ myIDP tool. Using myIDP, you can identify suitable careers based on your current interests and skillset. With this information in hand, you can then formulate a plan to further develop your transferable skills and reach your career goals.     

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Topics: Career, Lab Tips, Career Readiness

Transgenic Organisms, Cas9 Gene Drives, and Appropriate Safeguards

Posted by Guest Blogger on May 22, 2015 12:58:12 PM

This post was contributed by Kevin Esvelt, a Wyss Technology Development Fellow at the Wyss Institute and Harvard Medical School.

Scientists making transgenic organisms with Cas9 should be aware of the potential hazards of creating “gene drives” capable of spreading through wild populations. Whereas most genomic changes impose a fitness cost and are eliminated by natural selection, gene drives distort inheritance in their favor and consequently can spread even when costly.

If even a single organism carrying a synthetic gene drive were to escape the laboratory, the drive could eventually spread through the entire wild population with unpredictable ecological effects. Because the consequences of such a mistake would necessarily extend far beyond the laboratory and seriously damage public trust in scientists, experiments involving potential gene drives should be conducted with extreme caution.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Lab Tips, CRISPR, CRISPR 101

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