Vicki Doronina's Profile

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Book Review: “The Double Helix”, by James Watson

Is it just me, or are there not many well-written scientific memoirs around? Even the words “scientific memoir” brings up an image of a long and boring book. There are a lot of good books written about scientists, but not by scientists. Maybe it’s because the scientists are trained to write logically, objectively and dispassionately: […]

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In Inspiring & Thought Provoking 19th of October, 2012
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DEPC: The Wicked Witch of RNA?

If you have ever worked with RNA, you know about DEPC (diethylpyrocarbonate). You add it to water at a concentration of 0.1%, shake or stir, incubate at 37°C for two hours or at room temperature overnight and, as if targeted by a magic bullet, the RNAses that may have been in the water are gone. […]

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How To Handle A British Supervisor: A Foreigner’s Guide

The United Kingdom, formerly known as Great Britain, has a long scientific tradition. British academic institutions are among the best in Europe and possibly the world (there is a potential conflict of interest here: while the author is not British by birth, she has spent many years studying and working in the UK). It is […]

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In Dealing with Fellow Scientists 26th of September, 2012
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How to Amplify Difficult PCR Substrates

During my postgraduate studies, I did literally one PCR reaction with a pre-optimised protocol on a not especially difficult template. So my karma came back with vengeance, when as a part of my first postdoc I had to amplify a template containing a 35 bp-long GC-rich stem-loop, which proved to be extremely difficult. This was […]

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In PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR 14th of September, 2012
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Zero Tolerance: A Perfectionist’s Guide to Aseptic Technique

Arguably, molecular biology is impossible without microbiology – even if you work exclusively with transgenic mice, you may one day need to amplify a vector in E. coli. And microbiology is definitely impossible without good aseptic technique. The main principle of good microbiological practice is a zero tolerance approach: it’s good to be a little […]

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In Cells and Model Organisms 29th of August, 2012
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How to Do a Kit-free Midiprep

Commercial kits are supposed to be to homemade protocols what lifts are to stairs: they should work faster and save you physical exertion. However, in many cases, taking the staircase (e.g. the DIY approach) works better in some ways – and it is always cheaper. BitesizeBio has previously published protocols for homemade plasmid minipreps. I’d […]

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Got Phage? Here’s how to get rid of it.

Summertime… The birds are singing, the trees are growing. Your tissue culture has sprouted yeast contamination, your yeast culture is happily growing bacteria. Your bacterial culture was growing calmly and predictably, dividing every twenty minutes, but suddenly its optical density has dropped, and it’s full of some sort of filaments and clumps. Or you did […]

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In Cells and Model Organisms 18th of July, 2012
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How to Be The Lab Bastard

We all know them. You might even be one. The Lab Bastard is the one who considers himself (or herself!) superior to all other mere mortals in the lab. He would never degrade his talent by doing communal jobs in the lab, but swans around, absolutely sure that his experiments are most important and his […]

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The Easiest Yeast Transformation Protocol on Earth

There are several yeast transformation protocols around, and most of them require a lot of steps: overnight starter culture, dilution and growth to logarithmic phase, several washes, and so on… These protocols work very well since they have been optimised for maximum transformation efficiency, which is needed for applications like library construction. But they are […]

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In Cells and Model Organisms 22nd of June, 2012