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The Materials Science of Optogenetics Experiments

Posted by Guest Blogger on Sep 17, 2015 10:30:00 AM

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

The surgeries and standard molecular neuroscience validation experiments we discussed last week are only half of the battle when using optogentics to answer a research question. The flip side of the optogenetics coin is materials science-based. Light is delivered to your opsin through a small piece of fiber optic cable implanted into the animal’s skull (right). The fiber optic cable is threaded throughand fixed to—an optical insulator called a ferrule (below). The fiber optic cable/ferrule is inserted into the target brain region using stereotaxic surgery and cemented to the animal’s skull using dental cement (a similar procedure as implanting a guide cannula). A fiber optic patch cable is then connected from laser to ferrule to deliver light pulses to the target brain region.

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Topics: Optogenetics, Techniques, Primer on Optogenetics

Donations from Addgene to Yield Answers for Rare Disease Researchers

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Sep 15, 2015 10:30:00 AM

Every year, the Rare Genomics Institute sponsors a global competition for researchers working on rare diseases, offering them the chance to win some of the latest tools and technologies in life sciences research. The rare disease research community has certainly noticed: This year, the BeHEARD (Helping Empower and Accelerate Research Discoveries) Award attracted submissions from 99 universities and foundations in 21 countries.

“Over $600,000 worth of cutting-edge technologies were awarded to study 31 rare diseases,” said Claudia OuYang, BeHEARD Co-Director in a release. The research teams studying four of those rare diseases will receive plasmids from Addgene worth a total of $5000.

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Topics: Scientific Sharing, Interview

A Primer on Optogenetics: Introduction and Opsin Delivery

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

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

Optogenetics is spreading through the neuroscience community like wildfire and for good reason. For the first time in the history of neuroscience research we have a technology that allows us to show causality in neural circuits with incredible temporal and spatial precision (I’m not going to discuss the basic biology of optogenetics so if you are not familiar with it, these reviews are an excellent introduction [1-3] and openoptogenetics provides a variety of useful resources).

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Topics: Optogenetics, Primer on Optogenetics

Synthetic Photobiology: Optogenetics for E. coli

Posted by Mary Gearing on Sep 8, 2015 10:30:00 AM

As optogenetics turns 10 years old, it’s easy to forget that this technique isn’t limited to neuroscience. In fact, precise light-based control of biological processes is highly useful in other fields, including synthetic biology. Addgene depositors Christopher Voigt and Jeffrey Tabor have been working on making E. coli light responsive since 2005, when Tabor was working in Voigt's lab. Years later, these classic systems continue to be optimized by Tabor’s lab, making light-controlled gene expression in E. coli easier and more robust.

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Topics: Optogenetics, Synthetic Biology

The Importance of a Fun Workplace: Company Culture at Addgene

Posted by Laura Veckerelli on Sep 3, 2015 10:30:00 AM

Our story today starts with a bit of Addgene history...

As you may be aware, Melina Fan, her brother Ken Fan, and her husband Benjie Chen co-founded Addgene in 2004. They worked tirelessly to get Addgene from a concept to an up and running repository. As they built the foundation for what Addgene is today, there was a lot of blood, sweat, and, I’m guessing, literal tears (though none of the founders have EVER confirmed this with me). While things were incredibly busy in those early years, the founders knew that company culture and enjoying your job were important parts of team buidling - they relieved some of the pressure of start up life and maintained their sanity by throwing fun into the mix.

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Topics: Career, Inside Addgene

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