While many are having a rough time throughout the world, we thought one of the best ways to lighten the mood for those stuck at home would be to repeat our much-loved Lab Fails Contest. Remember, not only do all the lucky winners receive a LabTAG DNA plushy, but they also have the distinction of having one of the worst (and best!) lab fails of the year. Here to brighten you day are the best lab fails of 2020.
Using RNA interference (RNAi) to knock down gene expression is one of the staples of life science research. It’s used in many cellular models, primarily as a tool for assessing the involvement of specific genes in biological systems. However, it wasn’t until recently that this technology was successfully adapted for humans to treat disease.
As of the day this article was written, more than 20,000 cases of the new coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV, have been confirmed in China.1 The disease, which originated in Wuhan, a city in the Hubei province of China, has taken over headlines across the world as it currently has the potential to drive a global pandemic, with the WHO declaring it a global health emergency. Though the fatality rate is currently not as high as either of its two relatives, SARS and MERS, everyone is taking the threat seriously, particularly in China, where cities have become ghost towns.2
With new artificial intelligence (AI) technology primed to revolutionize medicine, including diagnostics and drug discovery, it was only a matter of time until scientists decided to use AI to solve the question no one has yet been able to answer: why do we age at all?
The Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) recently held their second Sample Management Symposium in Boston, MA. I was there on behalf of GA International to cover some of the new trends in sample management being implemented in biotech and pharmaceutical companies across North America.
Labs have been using cryogenics for years to store human and animal tissue samples, cell lines, and extracts. Freezing ultimately helps preserve these samples, but for large organisms, freezing can be lethal. Here, we’ll review the current state of knowledge about what happens when we freeze cells, the strategies scientists use to help tissues and organs survive the freezing process, and how nature has adapted to cope with freeze/thaw cycles.
When working in a lab, you should be as clear as possible with the person you’re communicating with, whether it’s the undergraduate student you’re mentoring or the editors of the journal you wish to publish in. Unfortunately, performing experiments alone on a day-to-day basis isn’t the greatest way to improve your communication skills. Here are several ways we, as scientists, can refine them:
Whether you enjoy watching films, listening to music, or painting in your spare time, art plays a major part of our everyday lives. Films today are seen by hundreds of millions of people worldwide—let’s be honest, who hasn’t seen Avengers: Endgame?—and are generally critiqued on their artistic merits, whether the reviewer is a trained critic or not. However, the connection between art and its influence on science (and vice versa) isn’t always as apparent. What’s certain is that art shares many similarities to the scientific method, with lessons that can help scientists as they make new discoveries and try to place them in a broader context.
When working in a lab, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by excessive workloads. Clinical labs are regularly inundated with patient specimens, while biomedical research often requires large-scale experiments involving hundreds to thousands of samples, with multiple steps per assay. Here are some tips to help you cope with high-volume assignments as well as the stress that can come with them.
Just a couple years ago, I was a research associate working at McGill University in the Meakins-Christie Laboratories, studying a rare disease called lymphangioleiomyomatosis, or LAM. LAM is a progressive, cystic disease afflicting young women with noncancerous lung tumors that can destroy lung function, making the disease potentially fatal. My job was to understand where these tumors came from and what made them propagate throughout the lungs. There was one unfortunate caveat: no one had been able to grow LAM tumor cells outside of the body. As anyone who has ever worked with cancer biology can attest to, there are a multitude of immortalized cancer cell lines, grown from the cells of a patient’s tumor, that can be studied to perform pre-clinical translational research. And yet, not a single representative cell line was available for LAM. Thankfully, my supervisor set me up with just the right project to help solve this puzzle, which centered around induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).