In the research lab work environment, every day is different. There are various experiments to plan, prep and run and always lots of data to analyze and interpret. Each day this summer, I have come in to work with a plan for what I need to accomplish that day so that I can stay on top of the week’s work. This is a sample day in the lab for me:
- The experiments for the project I am working on are usually conducted on tissue from a mouse model. The embryo is dissected from the mother mouse at a designated time point, then embedded into paraffin wax. From there, I use a microtome to section off extremely thin slices of the mouse embryo head, in order to obtain slides with brain or ear tissue.
- After the slides are prepared, they have to dry overnight in an incubator and after that they are able to be used for staining.
- An example of a stain I have done this summer is an immunohistochemistry stain with an anti-BrdU antibody. BrdU is expressed in actively replicating cells, so the antibody allows us to visualize cells that are replicating their DNA versus cells that are not. This is a two-day experiment. Afterwards, we use a high-powered imaging scope to capture fluorescent images of the slides.
- Once all the slides have been imaged, it’s time to analyze the data. I have been using NCBI’s ImageJ tool to count cells that are BrdU-positive. Once that’s all put into an Excel file, I use the software Prism to create a comprehensive graph of all the data, which will accompany a figure legend and a section about the experiment’s conclusions in the paper.