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Cancer

Pour off old media. Wash twice with Hank’s salt solution. Add 5 milliliters of thawed trypsin and pour off. Wait five minutes. Use 5 milliliters of alpha-10 to quench the reaction. Add 1-2 drops of liquid culture to each of two new flasks, which should each contain 20 milliliters of alpha-10. Add 20 milliliters of alpha-10 to the original flask. Incubate all flasks at 37°C and check regularly.

I’ve been working with Dr. Thomasson on his cancer research all year. I’ve been performing the above procedure, which we call “splitting the cells,” since September. But it wasn’t until last week that I truly had an epiphany. I absolutely love working in the lab.

Since I’ve been a biology major, I’ve enjoyed micropipetting and looking through microscopes and figuring out where I may have introduced error into my experiment. However, last week, it just really hit me: I love working in the lab. In honor of the 60th anniversary of the structure of DNA, my molecular techniques class watched a NOVA documentary about Rosalind Franklin’s underestimated role in Watson and Crick’s field-changing work. In the film, one of the interviewed speakers talked about how Franklin didn’t just enjoy science for the end results, as do most scientists, but she enjoyed science for the entire process of it. While watching the documentary, I was sort of taken aback by that statement. I like results, and I like looking at where I go right and wrong. However, I never had really before thought of enjoying the journey of science more than the final destination.

The next day, I was literally just standing at the lab sink washing beakers that I’d previously used for splitting some of Dr. T’s cells. And you know what? I had this huge smile on my face. I was having the best time ever washing those beakers. Have Dr. T and I cured cancer? Definitely not. But just the prospect that we could make an important discovery or that we could be contributing valuable insight to others in the field is something to be proud of.

My friends will tell you that I’m very impatient, and they would be correct. I don’t like to sit around waiting for things to happen. As my friend and fellow blogger Carly would probably say, I like to be a catalyst and make things happen faster than they normally would. That’s probably why I started my newer method of thawing the trypsin enzyme in the water bath before gathering the necessary supplies for the above cell-splitting procedure instead of using my older method, which involved setting up the rest of the supplies and then thawing the frozen enzyme. However, in light of my newfound love of the entire process of science – not just a love of the results – I don’t think that waiting on the trypsin will be as tedious as I once found it to be.

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Tomorrow, Monday, March 4, the Biological Sciences Organization will be hosting our semesterly bake sale. Usually, we donate a portion of the proceeds from our sales to animal adoptions. And, though we absolutely love animals and strongly support and promote saving their habitats, we have decided to break from tradition in order to support another worthy cause: breast cancer research.

On campus, a few students (including me) led by Dr. Thomason and Dr. Rayhel are currently working with the EMT6 breast cancer cell line and with mouse-derived macrophage cells. Dr. Thomasson originally published his research in the 1980s. Right now, we are trying to determine which new route we would like to take with this work.

So if you have any questions about the research we are performing on campus, or if you would like to support the cause and purchase a baked treat, stop by the BSO table tomorrow in the Ryan corridor between 11:30 and 1:30. We will have a variety of cupcakes, cookies, and other delicacies available for just $1 each, and every person who purchases a treat will receive a free handmade breast cancer ribbon of their choice in order to wear to show their support. We hope to see you tomorrow!!

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