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Synthetic Biology & the Importance of Assembly Standards

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jul 8, 2014 11:06:00 AM

The field of synthetic biology has seen tremendous growth in recent years. At Addgene, synthetic biology deposits have grown exponentially, from just 2 plasmids in 2005 to 439 plasmids deposited last year. To shed some light on this growing field, we asked our friends at iGEM to share their expertise and discuss the importance of standards in the field.

The following post was contributed by Kim de Mora, iGEM Fellow.

What is Synthetic Biology?

“What I cannot create, I do not understand.” – Richard Feynman

This Feynman quote perfectly embodies the aims of synthetic biology in a single sentence. During the history of humanity, some of the most complex devices we have constructed are nuclear submarines, the space shuttle, the international space station and the Internet. But in all our existence, we have yet to design, engineer and build a cell from the ground up. A single bacterial cell is orders of magnitude more complex that the aforementioned feats of mechanical, aeronautical, electrical and computer engineering. These devices could be built because the underlying physical model of how the world works is understood by scientists and applied by engineers to practical ends.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Synthetic Biology

Inside Addgene's 10 Year Anniversary Gala

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jul 3, 2014 11:48:00 AM

Hey guys, Blugene here!

As Addgene’s mascot, I’ve watched Addgene grow into the successful, internationally renowned plasmid repository that it is today. Although I wish I could take all of the credit, the success of the company is attributed to the entire Addgene family; the depositors and requesting scientists, all of the Addgene employees, the Addgene board members, vendors, Addgene supporters, and of course, Executive Director, Joanne Kamens, and founders, Melina Fan, Ken Fan and Benjie Chen. Last week, the Addgene 10-year Anniversary Gala celebrated all of the people who have helped Addgene grow and spread our mission. 

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Topics: Fun, Inside Addgene

Scientist Networking: What is an Informational Interview?

Posted by Joanne Kamens on Jul 1, 2014 11:42:00 AM

Training as a scientist in the academic system has many pluses. I delighted in my graduate school years for allowing me to focus wholly on the science I love. This immersive nature of academia often means that scientists-in-training rarely get the opportunity to learn about the myriad of diverse, nonacademic careers that will be available once they have a graduate degree in science. I find it ironic that we do all of our training as scientists (5-12 years worth!) with academic scientists who can’t help us learn about the nonacademic sphere where most of us will be working

Check out Joanne's Reddit AMA

It should be no secret that one of the best things you can do during your training is meet interesting people doing interesting things. I call this building relationships because networking has gotten a bad reputation (as in…”I just hate networking”). Scientists enjoy learning new things. Building new relationships is all about learning new things from other scientists doing interesting work. Consider this to be like any other research project. You’ve met someone whose career interests you or you want to pursue someone doing a job you wish you knew more about – how do you make a connection? An Informational Interview is a great next step in your research.

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Topics: Career, Networking

6 Tips for Analyzing and Troubleshooting Sanger Sequencing Results

Posted by Lianna Swanson on Jun 26, 2014 10:23:15 AM

This blog was originally published on BitesizeBio here.

As part of my job ensuring plasmid quality at Addgene, I analyze 50-100 sequencing reactions a week. So I have developed some good habits that I wanted to pass on to you to make sure you are getting the most out of the data you get back from your sequencing runs.

When you run a restriction digest on a gel you always include proper controls like uncut DNA and the proper ladder. These controls help you properly visualize your results.The most important of those is to always look closely at the trace file (or chromatogram) of the sequencing results you get back from your favorite sequencing facility.

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Topics: Plasmid How To, Inside Addgene, Lab Tips

Plasmids 101: Luciferase

Posted by Jason Niehaus on Jun 24, 2014 11:59:00 AM

Luciferases are a class of enzymes capable of catalyzing chemical reactions in living organisms resulting in the emission of photons. The most familiar bioluminescent organism for most people is the firefly (Photinus pyralis) and perhaps not surprisingly it is also the most commonly used bioluminescent reporter. This beetle emits a yellow-green light with a peak emission at 560nm. Shortly after the initial article describing the cloning of firefly luciferase was published in 1985, several studies utilized luciferase as a genetic reporter in plant and mammalian cells. Luciferase assays have since become a gold standard in gene expression analysis and a luciferase gene (one of many available to choose from) is now a common feature in reporter plasmids. 

Learn How Luciferase Can Be Used In Concert with Fluorecent Proteins in Nano Lanterns

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Plasmids 101

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