Day Three in the lab at Heidelberg, and the pace is brisk and relentless. After a few minor set-backs, we are now knee deep into rearraying my siRNA library onto glass chips, which will take a good chunk of several kindly people’s time and about five days in total. In parallel, I am wrestling with the machine-readable spreadsheet that the microscope will need to label the 884,736 eventual timelapse images in a manner that will make assembling, and annotating analyzing the movies possible.
Breathing space A hideaway for precious downtime
Meanwhile, back on the biological front, we’re doing pilots on my beautiful new cell line to optimize image acquisition. They are rather lofty creatures, with layers of actin structures in various planes, from the basal adhesions to the dorsal microvilli – which slice will give the most information? There are decisions to be made too about time resolution – I am only here for three more weeks, and we must perform three replicates to make any future automated analysis meaningful. But even though I have two microscopes at my disposal which can in theory image four chips per scope, there are only so many spots that the hardware can visit per second. In other words, the spirit may be willing, but the stage and turret are weak.
The lab is crowded at the moment – great technology lures in lots of visitors, and after a homeless day perching on a lab stool, I’ve been given a lovely makeshift berth in a small room with a rather noisy office-mate:
Meet Robbie, the VersArray chipwriter robot. She makes a lot of noise and her moods go up and down, but she’s got great pins.
It’s only fitting I share with her, since she’s working so hard to print my siRNAs. And I’ve got a good view out the window – when the cottonwood fluff is actually sparse enough to see through.
There will be more to report soon, but for now I leave you with today’s hard-earned words of wisdom:
A watched Speed-Vac never lyophilizes.