Busy in Boston

Last week I began my summer research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA.  After clearing orientation, lab safety, and animal safety I was finally able to get started in the lab.  My first week primarily consisted of reorienting myself with the lab and practicing standard procedures and protocols that I will be carrying out for the rest of the summer.  Throughout the summer I will be testing varying cancer cell lines to determine how close they are to cell death and how likely they are to respond to chemotherapy.  Additionally, I will be treating these cell lines grown in vitro with a drug produced in the lab designed to push these cancer cells closer to cell death in order for chemotherapy to have a more significant response on the cell lines that it might not otherwise destroy.  We are currently working with a pharmaceutical company to get this drug out to clinical trial patients in the next 12-18 months, but before we do so, we also will be doing running these tests on tumors being grown in mice.

I spend the majority of my days in a lab coat and gloves treating cells with various clear and pink colored solutions in order to prepare them for the next experiment.  I also run a daily profile of these cells with 8 peptide solutions that measures how primed (how close to cell death) the cell is.  Mainly I just load the cells and peptides into a well-plate and then a computer program does all of the statistical stuff  and then spits out data for me to analyze.  I also help another research technician in checking the mice everyday.  We measure their tumor growth, response to drug treatment, and have to genotype each new mouse that is born.  Once a tumor has reached an appropriate size for analysis, we will remove it and bring it up to the lab for testing.

I have learned so much in my first few days here and am excited to continue my work throughout the rest of the summer!