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Lab Spotlight: Ding Lab

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Each month, Simply Blood spotlights a lab focused on the research of basic hematology, immunology, stem cell research, cell and gene therapy, and other related aspects.  Get to know these different labs around the world! This month, we are featuring the Ding Lab at Columbia University.


How long have you had your lab?
I started in February 2013. So a little over 5 years.

How many members make up your lab? Students/postdocs?
There are four graduate students and one postdoc in the lab currently. I would like to have another postdoc or two. That will be the ideal composition of my ‘dream’ lab.

What is the major research theme of your lab?
We investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms, particular extrinsic mechanisms, that regulate hematopoietic stem cell function. We also study how these mechanisms contribute to hematological diseases.

What's your best approach to mentoring students in the lab?
Everyone is different. I try to tailor my mentoring style to each student. The goal …

When do you feel like you have ‘made it’ in academic science?

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A funny thing happened to me the other day – I got the official notice that my promotion to Associate Professor of Medicine with tenure was approved (Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis).  It was all very anticlimactic, just a letter that showed up in my internal mailbox.  There was no phone call from the Dean or the Chair of the Department of Medicine, no big party, no fanfare – just a signed letter staring back at me.  It was a very surreal experience.  This is something most of us strive for and work so hard towards and then when the moment arrives, it was all very … meh.

Sometimes it still doesn’t seem real, I keep waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder saying … oops we made a mistake.  I go to meetings and conferences and see all the amazing work being done by my colleagues, contemporaries and collaborators and it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed.  So much of the world’s cutting edge research is being done in hematology that as a young investigator it is rea…

Lab Spotlight: Stachura Lab

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Each month, Simply Blood spotlights a lab focused on the research of basic hematology, immunology, stem cell research, cell and gene therapy, and other related aspects.  Get to know these different labs around the world! This month, we are featuring the Stachura Lab at California State University, Chico.  


How long have you had your lab?  
Since 2014

How many members make up your lab?  Students/postdocs? 
I currently have 12 members; 6 undergraduate students and 6 Master’s students.  I’m at a primarily undergraduate institution, so I don’t have any Ph.D. students or postdocs.  

What is the major research theme of your lab?  
Our major goal is to discover genes essential for hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell differentiation and proliferation, and how this normal process is disrupted in blood diseases.

What is the most exciting project in your lab right now?
We have a few exciting projects going in the lab, and they are pretty diverse.  Some students are looking at anti-cancer drug…

Things Nobody Told Me about Being a PI - Part 3

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Welcome back to the blog series “Things Nobody Told me About Being a PI”.  In part 1, we covered financial/administrative management.  Part 2 dealt with personnel/team management.  In the final installment, I would like to touch on an issue which was a big personal adjustment for me.

Something that was completely unexpected for me as a new PI was a sense of loneliness.  As a post-doc, you are probably used to working in a busy lab, maybe in a bay of 2-3 other trainees all bustling around doing experiments.  This builds a sense of comradery as you bond over failed experiments, talk about exciting new papers, and maybe plan what beers you are going to try at happy hour that afternoon.  As a new PI, you often spend a lot of time alone in your office - writing grants / papers, attending to the masses of incoming email, and handling all your regulatory protocols.  Even though you might be surrounded by people running around in the lab, and even other PIs down the hall, the relative silence …

Lab Spotlight: Trompouki Lab

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Each month, Simply Blood spotlights a lab focused on the research of basic hematology, immunology, stem cell research, cell and gene therapy, and other related aspects.  Get to know these different labs around the world! This month, we are featuring the Trompouki Lab at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, Germany.  


How long have you had your lab?
I have had my lab for four and a half years now. Time flies!

How many members make up your lab?  Students/postdocs?
Right now my lab consists of four graduate students, but one is very close to graduating!! This will be the first student graduating from our lab. We have also a postdoctoral fellow and a technician. Finally, a master student and an intern complete the current composition of our team.

What is the major research theme of your lab?
We are working on hematopoiesis, both developmental and adult, using zebrafish, mouse and human cells as models. A bit too much for a small lab, but we think that each …

Making the Leap, Part 6. Prepare for Landing

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Faculty interviews are over. You’ve negotiated your offers and decided on an institution that fits your needs. Your signed letter has been sent back and (importantly) has been approved by the dean(s) or other institutional heads, making it official. Maybe you’ve made or have scheduled a couple of additional visits to your future scientific home. The end of your post-doctoral training is in sight. Now what? I made my final decision to join the faculty of University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus in July of 2015, with a planned start date at the beginning of November that year. The intervening time was full of excitement and anticipation, and plenty of work to tie together loose ends in my postdoc and set the stage for my faculty position. Now that you’ve made the leap, here are a few things to consider as you prepare for landing.

1) Celebrate. Don’t overlook this. You’ve worked hard and all of the effort has borne fruit. It’s worth getting your friends, colleagues and mentor(s) …

Things Nobody Told Me about Being a PI - Part 2

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In part 1 of this series we covered financial/administrative management.  The second major thing I was completely untrained for in becoming a PI was personality management.  In the very beginning, I was always frustrated that projects and experiments were not progressing at the rate I was accustomed to.  What I had to learn very quickly was to stop projecting my expectations onto the people working in my lab.  When I was planning the new projects in my lab, I would lay out timelines based on my own level of production, and then I would get frustrated when these deadlines were not met.  One thing you have to realize is that the people who go on to run their own lab are a different breed.  To get a PI position, you have to be a highly motivated and dedicated post-doc who is used to working independently to maintain high productivity.  It is unfair to expect these standards from everyone working in your lab, and I had to adjust my expectations accordingly.  That’s not to say that everyon…