06:30 – My running group meets atop Primrose Hill. I love early mornings – I’m so hardcore!
08:00 – Almost back home and pow!!! I randomly bump into a friend who I haven’t seen for ages. We spontaneously decide to have a catch up over breakfast. It’s not that easy to find coffee shops that are open at this time, but we are girlies on mission and nothing will stop us!
08.45 – I’m back home. I shower, pack a sandwich for lunch and get ready to go to Guy’s Hospital, where I am based at the moment.
09.30 – I made it to the lab, like a boss. First thing on the agenda for today: tissue culture.
I’m in my first year of a 4-year PhD programme, in which I get to choose 3 different 12-week projects to work on. This is so I can get an impression of each project and at the end of the year decide which of these three labs I would like to continue my research in for the next three years.
The project I am working on at the moment is aimed at providing an alternative treatment to chemotherapy for breast cancer patients. Whereas chemotherapy is aimed at killing rapidly dividing cells (thereby also killing lots of healthy cells such as immune cells and cells of the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in side effects), we are focusing on an antibody-targeted therapy. This means we are trying to couple antibodies with drugs that only bind to breast cancer cells (and nothing else!). Such a drug would kill the cells after being internalised as a result of antibody binding.
On these plates above are lots of breast cancer cells that I seeded last night and this morning. I pipette different concentrations of this antibody-drug conjugate we made on them at different antibody:drug ratios. On Monday I will have a look at how many cells are alive in all the different conditions so that we have an idea about which ratio and concentration is needed for further experiments.
11.30 – I set up another experiment to investigate the binding of the different antibody-drug conjugates I set up to test for their efficacy earlier on.
12.30 – Lunch time. I meet some friends from my PhD programme for a short walk before we chillax on the grass and enjoy lunch in the sun.
13.30 – Back to my experiment! It involves quite a lot of steps of adding something and then waiting for 30 minutes. So during the time I’m waiting I plot some data from experiments I did ealier this week and have my fingers crossed that the graphs look roughly the same when I repeat it.
15.00 – Finally! The last step of this experiment: Flow cytometry. It’s one of those nice techniques where you insert your tube with lots of cells to a machine (in this case a flow cytometer) and acquire quite a lot of data relatively quickly and can plot nice histograms and graphs off like these:
16.00 – Time for a cup of tea and to get started on writing up a report. This is also part of my first year: all the PhD students on my course need to attend a series of workshops and then need to write a report for each of them. So I’m starting to model the 3D structure of a protein, search for papers and check my emails
17.30 – On my way out I remember that I need to scan a piece of paper saying that I got all the health and safety training when I got to the lab so I persuade my friend, who just got out of the lab as well, that it’s a good idea to go to the library on the way to the pub to get it out of the way. And surprise:
Look what we found – perfect for a selfie! We were so excited that I almost forgot to scan that paper…
18.00 – All done for today. Now we’re off to the pub, its Friday after all 😉
20.00 – Back at my place and a few friends (including my cleaner, Callum) come round to listen to heavy metal and do yoga. Good start to the weekend!
Written by Melina