I swear to spaghetti monster that we almost shit bricks and started sounded cold war era air raid sirens when a scary proposition was brought up. Is it the declining NIH budget, are we moving, are there layoffs. No dear reader, no.
Our PI wants to jump back into the lab and work on a side project. While I'm sure it's a romantic notion that harkens back to his days as a graduate student, it terrifies the shit out of us. Let me start off by saying, he is a great boss that is brilliant and very supporting of his trainees. But as a bench scientist, he is utterly unfamiliar with our lab and where stuff is at, is not accustomed to how long or how much work it takes to get stuff done. But worst of all, you move like a glacier compared to us.
We move at a pace that would make meth heads think they saw the Flash, thus we don't need you in our way staring at the freezer trying to figure out where something is at when we need to grab that enzyme now! I think the honeymoon for him after proclaiming that he would make all his own buffers from scratch, he is now pinching from our stocks. So I'm assuming this will not last long.
Its fun to watch though.
I've been working so much lately that I have literally run myself into the ground. The physical and mental exhaustion is causing me to feel punch drunk. In fact my vision is blurring while I'm writing this, while I'm waiting for my western to finish incubating in secondary. I'd love to take a day or two off but I want to keep up the positive momentum that I've got going. I don't want to take a day off and fuck up my research mojo right now.
That said, I'm going to have to take some semblance of a break soon. I may not be at my limit right now but I'm quickly approaching it. Just need to make it to the weekend...
Sorry for the rambling
So I'm really looking into a particular lab for a postdoc, one that I am fairly familiar with. Before I contact the PI, I am brushing up on some of their most recent publications. The question is how far back do I dig? My thought is that since I am familiar with what they do, I'll go back and read what they've published in the last three years as this is the most relevant to what's going on in the lab. Also I've pulled any review from the lab in the last 5 years, while some may no longer be topical, I want to get their slant or perspective on how they see the field.
So dear readership (n=4), how far back would you recommend me going in the paper pile?
Normally I leave my PI out of the mundane bullshit issues that arise in our lab and need to be handled by our support staff who do anything but support us. But lets face it the support staff, our IT department, in this case could give a damn about an issue brought to them by a lowly graduate student. I mean they aren't even employees! Why should they waste time on pissants like me?
Luckily after years of indoctrination into the system I know one thing when problems arise. Don't bitch about them to coworkers, you bitch and complain your way up the ladder until you get some results. And that's what I did, I went to the lab manager, departmental staff, etc. And I got a lame answer blowing me off for an undetermined period of time. And another thing, is when getting no response, go to the offending party in person and remind them you exist. And keep going to them, if you annoy them enough, they may actually help you out. In this case they didn't and that's when I time to call in el jefe.
My boss is a calm gentle man but when you are affecting his lab, he turns into Terry Tate--Office Linebacker. When I stick him on you, he is going to be on you like a rabid dog. You could have just helped me out but you didn't and so I had to call in the big guy. The boss definitely implores us not to waste his time but when you have navigated the proper channels he will do everything in his power as fast as possible to get results. I love working for my boss.
I'm running on fumes today after a series of long stressful days... I welcome sleep or any form of unconsciousness.
Our lab maintains the cell culture archives of another PI who unexpectedly passed away years ago. These cell lines and other samples have proven valuable to many researchers over the years but honestly its a pain in the ass to curate and deal with requests. Typically, an email pops up in my boss's inbox requesting cell line x from patient with condition y. Boss forwards me asking if we have this? And we better have this because it was on the inventory of lines that was last done about a decade ago. Not to mention the inventory and archiving was less than meticulously done. This means I'm digging through tons of boxes in our liquid nitrogen stocks reading faded and illegible writing or worse labels that are in various states of disrepair or falling off. Then I've got to culture them and find some way (western blots, genotyping, etc) that they are what they are and make freeze backs before sending them out the door.
As much as this last step is a pain in the ass I respect my boss for doing it, because I don't know how many times we have been shipped lines that were the wrong mutants or were supposed to be mycoplasma negative but are teeming with the little creatures. And then off they go.
Do you folks safeguard others samples and dole them out to whoever wants them? And for PI's do you have a plan for what happens to your stuff if you somehow end up kicking the bucket?
I'm currently stuck working with an internal collaborator on a project that I was originally supposed to just provide technical advice to. It grew to them trying to dump the work off on me and using all our equipment and reagents. After explaining to the collaborator that the only thing in the world that mattered more to me than his project was everything else in the world, he took the hint and started working on it himself. But the cheap fuck is using all our reagents and kits to do the work, I don't think the boss man thought this would be the case but I've got to bring it up to him. He may roll over on this but "our" collaboration is now at a standstill until some stuff for the project is ordered and the doucheknuckle wants us to pony up the money for it.
There is no way in hell I'm going to pay for stuff we might not even use in the lab to help this person out on a one off project. At this point, they need to put some skin in the game, so I'm using the slow roll approach and conveniently forgetting to order what we need until they get a clue and do it themselves. This has been frustrating, I don't have time to drop everything whenever you deign to show up and am getting pissed off when you forget to answer my emails for a month. This collaboration will net me nothing, I will help you produce what you need and at best end up buried in the middle of the authorship if even that. I've got other fish to fry.
Speaking of frying fish I need to go catch some catfish.
A lot of what my lab focuses on is studying the sensitivity of cells deficient for my gene of interest to different DNA damaging agents in order to find out what potential repair pathways it may participate in. This gene is over expressed in multiple cancer types and elevated levels of it in the cancer confer poor survival outcomes. This coupled with the fact that lack of gene sensitizes it to particular damaging agents makes my gene of interest a potentially druggable target. The drug screening for inhibitors of the gene product is not the main focus of my project. Rather I try to study the gene and its implications on organisms overall physiology as well as mechanistically what is actually doing in the cell. The Genomic Repairman protein appears to require a delicate balance in the cells, too little and you have problems, and too much of it causes the cellular train to speed up to fast and run right off the track.
While studying the mechanism is more rewarding to me, I do have a keen interest in finding a drug that might exploit a weakness in cancer cells. This is a long term project and one that may not even get off the ground before I leave the lab but I feel that it would be personally rewarding to help get this off the ground.
Recently Genomic RepairWife booked me a massage as a treat for my birthday and damn it was awesome. But while laying on the table, having Helga the masseuse use Randy MachoMan Savage atomic elbow drop-like movements on my shoulder blade area, I realized that science is killing my back. Working long hours hunched over at the bench like the diligent troll that I am has contributed to my poor posture and back strain. I have even contemplated getting one of those ugly back braces to straighten me up so that I don't pick up a Quasimodo style hunchback. While I do like swinging from ropes, I do not wish to become a anymore of a social pariah than I already am.
So dear reader, how do you handle ergonomics in science to preserve the body? For instance my PI, makes the trainees read papers for him and report back to him on them in detail, thus preventing the onset of eyestrain for him.