Weekly reads: grad student life, cell barcoding, diabetes trial, more

Part of being a grad student is dealing with technologies related to your projects and their limitations.

Sometimes I feel old when I remember the way we used to have to do things in the lab. As a grad student, I manually poured, ran, and read giant sequencing gels. Back then, gene synthesis of a sort always had to be attempted by PCR from cDNA. BLAST searching sequences was a new and sometimes clunky thing.

ViaCyte capsule
ViaCyte capsule analysis. “Histology of cross-sections of a sentinel explanted from “Subject D-001” with glucose-responsive C-peptide illustrates both the cellular and non-cellular regions of a mature graft.” Fig. 3, Shapiro 2021 Cell Reports.

Of course, things are much better now in some ways. Something as simple as sending out your DNA for sequencing, which has been an option for a few decades now, is so far superior to doing it all yourself. As a grad student, I would have loved that. Now you can get many plasmids from places like Addgene or commercial vendors instead of making them entirely yourself. What you can’t get as an off-the-shelf product can be made to order via gene synthesis. I’m not sure BLAST searching is really that different after twenty-something years. Maybe quicker.

Reading papers and media stories often brings up innovative methods that are relatively new even for these “modern” times in science.

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