Wednesday, May 10, 2006

One thing behind me...

Yesterday I finished taking my comprehensive exams/qualifying exams. It's basically a long test that is given after two years of working on a PhD that tests the knowledge you've acquired over time. Think of an essay exam that is designed to cover four or five classes. 12 questions, pick eight and answer them. Pass or fail. That's it. You fail it you get another shot in one year. You fail again and you get the boot from the program. It's a bit scary.

On each day I felt like I was able to write decent answers for three out of the four questions that I chose (you get six questions per day). I'll find out next Tuesday if I passed or not. This week is kind of a limbo status week.

Now that I've got the exam out of the way it will be full steam ahead on the lab research front. I got some disappointing results last week. I've been working for over a month trying to get a cell line to express two genes simultaneously which are not normally expressed in them. One gene makes the cells resistant to a drug, the other is a receptor I want them to express. So after a month it looked good. The cells were resistant to the drug, so chances were good that the receptor was also being expressed.

I tested the expression of the gene for the receptor I wanted. Nothing. Big bummer. All hope is not lost, because I have a second set of cells going that are resistant to the drug and might express the receptor. I'm going to try to make that determination this week. Otherwise it will be back to the drawing board to make a different expression plasmid (DNA which I'll put into the cells that contains the genes I want expressed) and start over again. I'll work on some side projects at the same time though, so it's not like I'll just be twiddling my thumbs.


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