Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

How to Check the Accuracy of Your Pipette

How much time do you spend thinking about the accuracy of your pipette? Probably not much. It’s one of those things that get brushed aside in the heat of experimentation. Pipetting accuracy though, is critical to successful experiments–especially in sensitive experiments. For example, qPCR relies upon accurate pipetting—calculations depend on having the same amount of…

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10 Ways to Abuse a Pipette

It seems like every movie that needs a shot of a scientist doing their sciencey-thing either gets the person to pour one pretty liquid from one flask into another or to stare intensely at a test tube with a look of knowing so much more than you ever could. Another favorite shot is of someone…

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A Quick Primer on Enzyme Kinetics

As biological catalysts, enzymes transform target substrates into products. Enzyme kinetics is the rate of that transformation. By understanding how an enzyme’s behavior is affected, you can figure out how it functions in physiology or fails to function in disease. Now it gets complicated… What Affects an Enzyme’s Kinetics? In the first place, most enzymes…

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How Do Buffers Work?

A former colleague and friend of mine worked in technical support, taking calls from scientists. Most of the calls came from life science researchers frustrated by failed experiments. My friend would listen for a bit, then almost always exclaim in very charming but booming Russian-accented English, “No! You must add buffer to the experiment! It…

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