Good Data | #3

Good data. Good data is like the new car smell. Good data is like the ‘I studied and got a good grade’ feeling. Good data is very hard to get. But when you get good data, its like you have punched a hole in the wall and discover a gold mine. Everything you have ever wanted.

As I said, good data is very hard to get. Well, it feels like luck and hard work (that how I have felt at Michigan for the last 3 years, but that’s a different story). Research is a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck. As I develop and grow as a scientist (and student), I am realizing how important it is to understand the boundaries of my own two hands. What I can and what I can’t do. Beyond this, I am realizing how important it is to balance my emotions and understand that not everything can be my fault and if things do not go perfectly it is not instantly my fault. I just started the analysis of UN33 – IF H2AX with Drug and RT. This means it is Uche Nna’s 33rd experiment and it is an Immunofluorescence assay (essentially using fluorescence color to detect an antibody of interest) and the antibody of interest is Y-H2AX, a marker of DNA damage. This is a very pretty experiment to do. I get to take pictures of DNA damage within my cells and they happen to be very beautiful. I worked alongside one of our post-docs for this experiment because her IF assays always turn out very beautiful and she is very good at them.

I have worked alongside about 4 different people in the lab over the last year. These people have left me with more advice than I could’ve imagined. Their experience allows them to warn me of the hurdles I may encounter while approaching the experiment. Their warnings save me every time. They constantly bail me out before I even get myself into trouble with their “Are you surrrrrree you want to do THAT”. I am very grateful to be doing cancer biology alongside such caring, thoughtful, and experienced scientist. From day 1 they have made me feel that I can ask them anything. Whenever I go to them with a 1 question I get almost 500 answers in response. They push me to think in new ways and beware of hurdles may be avoidable and how carelessness will really cost me (and my PI) in the end. Why skip a 10-minute wash step just to run a $300 experiment and get cloudy [Bad] data – oi vey.

So, there it is. Sometimes bad data can be your fault. Those are the best circumstances of bad data. Because you can change and get better. Bad data from good work is when it is a little above your head and you must re-think your approach and strategize again. At the end of the day bad data doesn’t mean you are a bad person or a bad scientist or careless. Good data doesn’t mean I’m a good scientist or super careful or a good person. After months of bad data….I had really good data this week.

Finally, one of the most interesting parts about staining for H2AX is that DNA damage from double-stranded breaks is rarely permanent in normal cells. The H2AX is a flag for DNA repair, so after tracking the DNA damage at .5h, 6h, 16h, 24h, and 48h you are able to see the damage hang around and then slowly fade away. So I hope all of the double-stranded in your week begin to fade away soon.

Here is a picture of H2Ax in someone’s paper the blue is the cell nucleus and the pink dots are the H2AX foci:




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