Sunday, September 26, 2004

When Being Ahead of Schedule is Bad

I would make a comment on my own lack of meaningful posts of late, but I feel it’s self-evident, so I’ll limit it to this one sentence.

This week has been very busy. I finally managed to get time on a Tuesday to run an experiment and use the flow cytometer to analyze the cells (a flow cytometer basically counts cells and checks them for colors, so if one uses a colored indicator dye to characterize a condition the cell may be in it’s possible to figure out how many of the cells in a population respond to a treatment or not). I’ve been working with a dye that stays green when in the cytosol of cells, but appears red when it collects in the mitochondria of cells (it’s called JC-1).

If the mitochondria aren’t functioning well, they will leak the dye back into the cytosol of the cell, and it will become more red. I’ve been trying to do research on a compound that we think causes mitochondrial dysfunction, and have been trying to reduce the dysfunction (and hopefully improve the cell’s health) by treating with another compound that may increase the cell’s store of protective molecules.

Anyway, a flow cytometer is large, expensive piece of equipment. Our lab doesn’t own one, but Michigan State University has a nice one over in the Biochemistry department that we have access to on Tuesdays. Unfortunately, so does everyone else, so people have to sign up for time on the machine. This is where my problem arises.

Since I work with live cells I’m on a tight timeline, and if I get ahead or behind schedule it can really throw a wrench in the operation. Tuesday I got ahead of schedule, by about an hour. Unfortunately I didn’t catch on to that until I had added my toxicant, otherwise I could have just left them in the incubator longer with the protective compound. In the end they ended up sitting for an extra hour, which can really change an outcome when the exposure to the toxicant is only an hour and a half. Basically, my results didn’t look that good when I was over at the flow cytometer. I’ll go back sometime this week to take a closer look at them and play around with the analysis software.

I’ve also been studying hard for my Biochemistry class. I’m almost up to date on the reading. I’ve actually been taking the time to take notes on each paper as I read it, something I’ve not taken the time to do in the past. I’m hoping it will really help with my retention of the material. My first exam of the semester is tomorrow, but it’s actually for my Pharmacology class. I’ll review the notes a bit more, but there isn’t a textbook or much reading for the class, so I’ve not been spending as much time on it as the Biochemistry course.

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