Finally in Toronto!

After some airline issues (one cancelled flight, two delayed flights, and one unexpected night in a hotel in New Jersey), we finally arrived in Toronto on June 30th! Since July 1st is Canada Day, we had a few days to start exploring the city and settle in before starting in the Gingras lab. Toronto is a great city, and I’m excited to spend three weeks here doing some great research.

Dr. Hinton spent a week here in Toronto to help Ashley and I settle in and to figure out what our finalized goals were for our time here. The first week, we read a lot of papers about mass spectrometry, BioID, Gateway cloning, and the Flp-In T-REx system to gain a better background. We also started an optimization experiment for the N2A cells (the main cell line we’ll be working with here) with Jon Roth, a PhD student in the Gingras lab, looking at the presence and absence of poly-D-lysine, different cell seeding concentrations, and comparing the Flip-In N2A cells and baseline N2A cells. We learned about how they run their lab and familiarized ourselves with their specific TC and general protocols and procedures. A main goal of our time here is to start creating Flp-In N2A cells for STYX, MK-STYX (or STYXL1), and F1. “Flp-In” cells have a specific gene of interest (ex: MK-STYX) stably transfected so that the protein of interest is expressed at more constant levels and can be better controlled, generally by Tetracycline induction. Stable transfection is a must for use with mass spectrometry– you can’t use transient transfection (which is what we normally use for other types of experiments) because it messes up the general protein expression levels of the cell. It’s fascinating to gain a better understanding not only of the new techniques I’m learning, but even my own research that I’ve been working with for a long time. Everyone here has been so nice and welcoming, and it’s been a great opportunity to be able to learn from Master’s students, PhD students, postdocs, and lab techs.

On Thursday, we were also able to attend a Gingras lab meeting since Dr. Gingras was in town, where some people from another lab that focused more on bioinformatics presented on their work. To be honest, most of it went over my head, but it was so cool to hear about research from a different lab and to see how everyone in the room bounced ideas off of each other to improve the research as much as possible.

Comments

  1. rabeaver says:

    It’s so cool that you get to travel to Canada for your research! Are you doing this because the lab in Canada has a particular instrument you need to use or are you trying to learn from the people in the lab? Are you going to be spending time sight-seeing or working all day? (Although not sure what sight-seeing there is to do in Canada … I’m sure there’s something.)

  2. erkelafant says:

    That is so awesome you are able to travel to Canada for your research and learn more from a different lab! Do you plan on continuing similar research when you come back to W&M? Why did you choose this specific lab in Canada?

  3. kmreed01 says:

    Thanks! We do plan to continue these projects back at W&M in collaboration with the Gingras lab in Canada. We chose this specific lab because Dr. Hinton has an established collaborating relationship with Dr. Gingras, and they are a leading proteomics lab. Our hope is that their expertise in mass spectrometry will help us uncover molecular pathways and interactors of MK-STYX.

  4. kmreed01 says:

    Thanks! We chose this specific lab because Dr. Hinton has an established collaborating relationship with Dr. Gingras, and they are a leading proteomics lab. Along with high tech mass spectrometry equipment, our hope is that their expertise in mass spectrometry will help us uncover molecular pathways and interactors of MK-STYX. I was visiting to learn more about mass spectrometry techniques from the lab techs, PhDs, and postdocs there, and to familiarize myself with the mass spec preparation protocol that I’ll be doing back at W&M.
    While we spent all day in lab during the week, we were able to explore the city on the weekends and after work during the week. There were plenty of things to do and see in Toronto, and we were able to pack a lot into our short time there, visiting museums and historical sites, seeing a musical, and even taking a day trip to Niagara Falls!