Weeks 1 & 2 – The Healthy Beginning’s Lab: The Glass Task

While I am only a few weeks into the summer, the Heathy Beginnings Lab and I are already fully immersed in finishing out our Glass Task study. This study, that was begun last May, lays the groundwork for our lab’s investigation further into communication between mothers and children, and how to improve it among all families, but with potential implications for those with an incarcerated parent. The Glass Task experiment involves a discussion task between the mother and child age 4-6, and examines whether or not the presence of a Plexiglas barrier between the two impacts the quality of their communication. Our lab will augment the Glass Task with a video task condition, which would look at the impact that video chat has on communication between mothers and their children in contrast with an in-person, observed interaction.

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Week 2: Continuation of the [2.2.2] monomer synthesis

This week, I continued my synthesis of the [2.2.2] monomer. 1H NMR analysis of the Aldol reaction from last week confirmed that product 1 formed (see Scheme 1). However, unknown impurities were also present. Therefore, after running various Thin-Layer Chromatography (TLC) plates in multiple solvents, I discovered that I needed to purify the mixture via flash column chromatography on silica gel (5% to 40% EtOAc in hexanes). To do this, I used the lab Biotage which was a very convenient way to perform this purification – this bypassed the tedious work of manually collecting individual fractions.

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Week 3

Optimization trials have been started. As of right now we are trying to optimize transfection and stimulation. We have seeded cells into wells to try and see the proper amount of time to allow the plasmids to transfect into the cells. We are also trying to optimize the amount of retinoic acid to put on cells to allow them to differentiate without dying or getting overly stressed. The results of these experiments will help will my overall experiment.

Week 1 and 2

These past few weeks we have trained the new members of our labs. They have gone through plasmid training and tissue culture training. While the new members continued their training, we started our trials for the summer. We got new plasmids to work with that have more exact cuts at the domains of MK-STYX which is very exciting. Next week I will continue optimization trials.

If at First you don’t Succeed, TRI(zol) Again! – Week 2 Update

Mondays are long but last Monday felt extra long as we were out of wet lab. We spent the day researching the RNA extraction protocol used in our lab and comparing it to the manufacturers’ protocols for the various steps in our procedure. It was an arduous task as we use so many different materials and machines, so there was a lot to research. The protocol we use in lab was made quite a few years ago and unfortunately it is not noted where it was originally derived from so it was our goal to find the protocol which was edited to create ours. After a full day of research we came up empty handed – however we are still looking into who created our protocol as it is important to know where it came from and what (and why) changes were made. The day was not spent in vain however, we made many discoveries about different techniques we could incorporate into the protocol which may help the efficiency of our runs and we noted these to try in the future.

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