Final Blog Post: Results, Conclusions, and Lessons Learned

Seven weeks of research has gone by, and by now I have had a chance to go through all the data I’ve collected and make some conclusions. Overall as is often the case in scientific lab research, our results lead us to further questions or more in depth projects that are needed to support our initial hypotheses.

As stated in my previous research updates, the majority of the time I spent in lab was doing western blots of sample rat tissues in order to make sure I had the technique and could get a proper signal for PGC1a before moving on to the real control and exercise trained tissues. After running successful blots with the tissue of interest (rat aorta), I quantified the protein expression of PGC1a using our lab’s LiCor imager. I used GAPDH as a housekeeping gene to normalize the protein expression. The signal for PGC1a in the aorta of the exercise-trained and control rats was good, and when normalized with GAPDH, the average amount of PGC1a expression quantified by band intensity was increased in exercised rats as hypothesized. However, upon running statistical analysis, the difference cannot be stated as statistically significant.

As disappointing as this was, it does lead us to further questions—questions that I will be looking to explore this upcoming semester in lab. In the coming weeks I will begin work on a research paper on PGC1a to further understand its functions in the body, specific role in arteries, and regulation within a signaling pathway. This will hopefully shed more light on the subject. For example, perhaps there are other tissues that PGC1a is more significantly altered in as a result of exercise.

Overall, this summer was an incredible learning experience of working in a scientific lab environment. Sometimes experiments don’t work out the way you plan them and sometimes it takes multiple tries to get things right. Perseverance and staying committed is key to doing any kind of research. Though sometimes results are not always what you expect, that’s the beauty of exploring new ideas and doing research!