Showing posts from February, 2019

PIs at the Bench

Keep working at the bench or keep locked in the office? There are no clear regulations about this question so you may wonder about it too. In this short blog I will give no answer, but rather suggest some of my own thoughts. Please do not hesitate to add your reflections as there is not just one correct answer in real life. Some of the best advice for any new PI includes the truth that it is a major transition: from doing your own experiments into managing a whole lab. The multiple duties of a new PI are time-consuming. Some PIs do have a personal life, so it is not much of a choice doing what you love or just what you have to do ASAP. You must spend most of your time in the office. But most is not all. YES, you CAN find the time for anything you really want to do. Some find the wet-lab work unattractive anyhow, some keep enjoying the work at the bench, so give it a thought so you may plan ahead and not have to compromise with other duties. My father used to tell me that if I w

Exploring Experimental Hematology: February 2019 (Volume 70)

Exploring Experimental Hematology: Modeling human RNA spliceosome mutations in the mouse: not all mice were created equal Chances are, you came across this hashtag last month: #10yearschallenge. Whether it was you or your Hollywood crush, you know it: people posted 2009/2019 side-by-side pictures on social media. Some people used it to spark up a conversation on climate change, “What Earth will look like in 2029?” Others (well, myself) thought instead: “What is the #10yearschallenge in cancer research? Across the globe, population aging is becoming one of the biggest social transformations of this century. By 2029, almost 1 in every 5 residents in the U.S. will be of retirement age. Aging is a risk factor for virtually every cancer, and this means that our current challenge is to understand, and to model age-associated cancers, such as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and related myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms (MDS/MPN). In their review, “ Modeling human RNA spliceosom

How to Handle Scientific Rejection

Rejection.  If you asked people on the street, what they think of when they hear this word most people would relate to unsuccessful romantic attempts, perhaps being denied a car or mortgage loan, or even having your layup attempt swatted into the third row at your YMCA pickup basketball game.  But for research scientists this word conjures up different connotations – usually conveying unsuccessful attempts at applying for jobs, funding or publishing manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals.  For most of us, ~80% of all such attempts are unsuccessful and thus come back with an email containing the dreaded “R” word.  Given that academic PIs spend the majority of their time writing grants and papers, one must find ways to deal with rejection if they are to overcome the obstacles and pursue a successful research career. From my own perspective (faculty for 6.5 years), it has been something that I have to consciously make an effort not to take personally.  You pour in so much of your blood,

Simply Blood Lab Spotlight: Challen Lab

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 Challen Lab at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. How long have you had your lab?  I have been independent faculty at Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, USA) for 6.5 years. How many members make up your lab?  Students/postdocs? We currently have 7 permanent members of the lab (3 students, 2 post-docs, 2 technicians), plus a rotating cast of other characters (undergraduates, summer students, rotation students). What is the major research theme of your lab? Our laboratory research focuses on the epigenetic regulation of normal and malignant hematopoiesis.  That is, how do epigenetic factors regulate the balance between self-renewal and differentiation in hematopoietic stem