Alex Chen

Alex received his Ph.D in Immunology and Virology at the University of Massachusetts. He then worked at Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute and University of Toronto as a post-doctoral researcher studying viral immunity and biology of HIV. He is currently an active member at bitesize bio. He is looking forward to endless opportunities in medical writing and collaborative communication writing.

Articles by Alex Chen:

A Biologist’s Guide to Choosing Your Fluorophore Palette

You may notice that nature is full of vibrant, even fluorescent, colors. The human eye detects wavelengths ranging from 390-700 nm and our perception of colors is actually a narrow part of the light spectrum. Other organisms can detect color from a wider spectrum. Why do colors exist? Arguably, colors are communicative, from tropical fish…

01 Sep 2016 Flow Cytometry&Microscopy & Imaging

How to Make Your Own Chemically-Competent Cells

I once had the terrible experience of not being able to run an assay because I ran out of commercial stock of transformation-competent Escherichia coli (E.coli). From that day, I learned to make my own chemically-competent cells in the lab. I recommend that everyone makes their own stash of transformation-competent E.coli stocks—among other suggested laboratory…

31 Aug 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Top 5 Tricks for Using FlowJo

Are you planning to do cellular immunology research?  Then chances are you will be introduced to the flow cytometer –  “a modern immunologist’s best friend.” This modern magic box is a highly versatile machine packed with cutting-edge fluidics and photonics (lasers). Combined with the monoclonal antibodies conjugated to fluorochromes capable of emitting light signals from a…

09 Aug 2016 Flow Cytometry

A Guide to Solid Phase Reversible Immobilization

  Scientists today depend heavily on many molecular biology techniques to perform their research. For example, with the advent of next generation sequencing (NGS): scientists are able to look at very minute details, right down to individual genetic sequence variations. However, the increase in experimental complexity means that every extra step becomes more crucial than…

11 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

How to Quantify Integrated HIV Genomes Using Alu-gag PCR

Alu sequences are repetitive DNA sequences that are widely dispersed within the human genome. These “junk DNAs” are not as useless as one might think. An interesting method to use them is to quantify the number of integrated Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) genome copies using Alu-PCR.

09 Jul 2016 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

Single Molecule Real-Time Sequencing

Recently, I have witnessed the uprising of various next generation sequencing (NGS) platforms and it’s quite interesting because each platform uses a different method. Previously, I’ve written about the exciting possibility of nanopore sequencing—a new sequencing technology based on the “signature” electrical currents generated as a single strand of DNA passes through the nanopore. The…

09 Jul 2016 Genomics & Epigenetics

Photonic PCR: When Lightening Strikes Your DNA

Before I get into today’s topic, please allow me to digress a bit and start with a few sentences that sum up the polymerase chain reaction (PCR); the grand-daddy of molecular biology. PCR, a method that is at the heart of modern day molecular biology discoveries, is a process that amplifies genetic material through our…

09 Jul 2016 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

Long-Range PCR: It’s About Choosing the Right Enzyme

The ability for DNA polymerase to copy a long stretch of DNA is becoming increasingly important. Why? It has to do with the advances in our sequencing technologies. Our next generation sequencing (NGS) technology requires the DNA polymerase to copy a long stretch of DNA (sometimes up to 50kb) as NGS is churning out genetic…

09 Jul 2016 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

Locating Your Cellular Apoptosis Squad: Annexin V Staining Assays

In real life, cells are instructed to commit suicide for the greater good of the organism. The programmed cell death (apoptosis) is important during development of a multi-cellular organism. A good example you will appreciate is the dis-appreance of the tail from a tadpole as it turns into a frog. On the reverse, the lack…

09 Jul 2016 Flow Cytometry

Entering the Digital Age for Quantitative PCR Analysis: Digital PCR

Digital PCR (dPCR) is a next generation qPCR that you might just need for quantitation and comparison of minute genetic copy differences.

09 Jul 2016 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR