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Eric J. Perkins

Eric received his PhD in Genetics & Molecular Biology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and did his post-doctoral research at Harvard. He is a Senior Scientist with Addgene and has worked at the repository since 2008. He loves that Addgene has given him the opportunity to talk with scientists all over the world, about all aspects of biology, every day.

Recent Posts

Why and how to start studying chromatin (with Addgene's help)

Posted by Eric J. Perkins on Jun 12, 2018 7:40:12 AM

How many times have you looked at a diagram depicting transcription, or DNA repair, or replication, or any number of CRISPR applications and thought “OK, but how does this work in the context of chromatin?” Though it’s true that adding histones and chromatin architecture to every diagram portraying some aspect of eukaryotic DNA would become busy and potentially detract from the process being depicted, we can’t forget that those other components are still there in real life.  Certainly referring to any DNA within the context of a nucleus as “linear” is a misnomer. The DNA packed into our chromosomes is very much 3-dimensional, as you can see by this post’s chromatin illustrations from Leah Bury of Microscopic Art.

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Topics: Blog

Transferable Skills Guide: Teamwork

Posted by Eric J. Perkins on Nov 28, 2017 9:00:00 AM

recent survey of PhDs found that many researchers feel that they lack formal training in a variety of transferable skills. At Addgene we've set out to fill this gap by both highlighting that researchers do learn MANY transferable skills while working in the lab and by offering advice on areas where you might need some help. Today: Teamwork.

My first experience on a successful scientific team came as an undergrad at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Though some WPI students chose to go the solo route for their Major Qualifying Project (or MQP, the school’s equivalent of a senior thesis), I knew early on that I wanted to work with a partner. WPI’s emphasis on teamwork was what drew me to the school in the first place. The famous discoveries and experiments I’d been learning about for years were usually the products of teams: Watson, Crick, & Franklin, Meselson-Stahl, Hershey-Chase...Who was I to dispute history? And boy did I make the right decision. If I’d spent my senior year isolating pheromones from various C. elegans mutants by myself, I would have slowly gone crazy. As it was, my partner Mike and I split the work, shared the credit, and we both won accolades that would launch our careers in science.

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Topics: Career, Career Readiness, Transferable Skills Guide

Plasmids 101: Aptamer Fluorophores

Posted by Eric J. Perkins on Apr 11, 2017 10:30:00 AM

What is an Aptamer?

Nearly 30 years ago, two independent groups, led by Jack Szostak and Larry Gold, developed methods for selecting and amplifying RNA sequences that could bind very specifically to target molecules. Using a technique called systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX), some 1010 oligonucleotides could be screened for their affinity to a wide range of non-nucleotide targets. These RNA molecules, which could bind their targets with high specificity and affinity, were eventually called aptamers, from the Latin aptus, meaning “to fit”. SELEX could be used to classify DNA aptamers as well, and over the course of the next two decades, these nucleotide-based ligand binders would prove to be highly adaptable tools.

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Topics: Plasmids 101, Fluorescent Proteins

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 Technical Support Calls

Posted by Eric J. Perkins on Sep 20, 2016 10:39:02 AM

I’ve answered hundreds of phone calls and thousands of customer service emails in my six years as a senior scientist at Addgene. Having spent that long in customer service, I've daydreamed about the ideal customer service interaction - one that gives our customers the most utility in the least amount of time. Though I now spend far less time answering help emails and phone calls, I feel compelled to share my years of accumulated wisdom so that you, the customer, can get the most out of your email or phone call. Though my experience is based solely on my time at Addgene, I’m confident that these tips and tricks will apply to any biology-related customer support interaction.

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Topics: Inside Addgene, Lab Tips

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