Showing posts from December, 2016

Life Beyond the Lab

What is a scientist? “A scientist is a person who wears a lab coat, glasses, gloves, has messy hair and works with green substances, and probably he/she is a bit crazy!” That was my 9 year-old niece`s answer when I asked her about how she pictured a scientist. Interestingly, that thought is not confined to children, in fact it is a popular image of a scientist (except for the green stuff) among non-scientists. But we, as scientists, know that this perception is far from the truth. We all know that science can be all consuming at times, at times absorbing 80% of our day. Between failed and successful experiments, biological discussions, database searches, statistical analyses that fall just short of significance, meeting with our supervisor to discuss all the details, and at the end of the day dreaming about all of the above. Without noticing, we start giving more and more of our time to science and less to our lives beyond the lab. We start cancelling meetings with friends, family and

Emerging Technologies – same questions, new toys

One of the most formative moments of my PhD training was an afternoon in my supervisor Professor Connie Eaves’ office discussing potential ways to study the direct progeny of single blood stem cells. At this point (~2005), a handful of groups had shown that a single cell could be transplanted into a recipient mouse and durably give rise to all of the mature blood cell types.  We were interested in trying to formally demonstrate whether one blood stem cell could create two in vitro, and if so, at what frequency. The question had actually stemmed from a thesis committee meeting that the student above me (Brad Dykstra) had just had where his committee discussed possible ways to get at the question (the value of strong thesis committees cannot be underestimated, and I should note that longstanding ISEH member Kelly McNagny was on both mine and Brad’s and was an idea machine!). Anyhow, Connie sat and politely listened to our “really novel” idea and the sort of MacGyver approach that we we