Monday, June 15, 2009

LEE: not CSI, not NCIS, not even Bones

So far, the LEE has gotten off to a slow start. We are still buying equipment (let's measure out buffer components -- wait, we don't have a balance!) and still waiting on some samples to arrive. Our plan is to run C-reactive protein (measures inflammation) and C-peptide (measures energy availability) assays on archived samples from our fantastic colleagues at the University of Saskatchewan (learn more about the project here). But in the meantime, the ever-fabulous research assistants Talia and Laura have managed to get some good work done by practicing on archived urine samples from Poland.

  1. They have taken a crash course on sampling methods and enzyme immunoassays... at least, that's the nice way to describe the information with which I bombarded them.
  2. They have pipetted water. And done it some more.
  3. They have learned how to use the plate washer, reader, and reader software.
  4. They have run a C-reactive protein assay using two different protocols on some archived urine samples.
  5. They have chosen articles for weekly journal club meetings.

And the results of said assays were pretty funky, which is why things have gotten slow. It turns out that we will need to do a purification method on our urine samples before measuring for C-reactive protein -- more on this when we've refined the method.

We don't get to know the answers to our questions in a forty-two minute show (or even sixty minutes, as I imagine Abby from NCIS works her way through commercials). And we hit methodological or technological roadblocks fairly often. This means we spin our wheels from time to time in academic science. But despite a bit of a wait on some equipment and supplies that will arrive in another day or so, there is plenty more to do, from keeping on top of the literature, to taking classes or working on the dissertation in the case of my RAs, to revising a manuscript and grant and collaborating on a symposium proposal in my own case.

Of course, at the end of the summer we'll have some interesting data to show for it.

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