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About this episode
#16 — You may know Spencer Shorte as Chief Scientific Officer to Institut Pasteur Korea, but as we’ll learn in today’s episode, he is also the creator of the Imagopol and the founder of the core facility software company Stratocore. We’ll learn more about the globetrotting that led Spencer to Korea, the challenges that he has faced in his career, and his favorite publication.
We’ll also get to know Spencer on a more personal level, as we discuss his love of James Bond, his penchant for stout, and how he ended up driving the wrong way down one of the longest one-way streets in Paris.
We’ll also discuss how Spencer sees the role of science in society and how it was only when returning to Europe after a stint in the United States that he worked out what he really wanted to do in science.
Please note that this is a Machine Transcription and may not be 100% accurate.
Peter O’Toole (00:00:17):
This week, on The Microscopists, I’m joined by Spencer Shorte the Institut Pasteur in Korea, we will learn more about his role in developing core facilities from his time in Pasteur Paris.
Spencer Shorte (00:00:30):
Well it was called Imagopol in the beginning. That’s when we started getting grandiose,
Peter O’Toole (00:00:35):
The perils of driving in France,
Spencer Shorte (00:00:38):
While I’m driving, I realized actually some cops in their car and thinking they must be looking at my British number plate thinking. Who’s this weird guy with all of the stuff in his car,
Peter O’Toole (00:00:48):
The benefit of having mountains on your doorstep,
Spencer Shorte (00:00:52):
They make it very easy for you to climb mountains, quite impressive mountains,
Peter O’Toole (00:00:56):
And the role of science in society.
Spencer Shorte (00:00:59):
In fact, the idea of service and science and the sense of science having a function, it has a role in society became very powerful for me.
Peter O’Toole (00:01:12):
Great. All in this episode of The Microscopists.
Peter O’Toole (00:01:28):
Hello and welcome to today’s Microscopists. Today I’m joined by Spencer Shorte from over at the Institut of Pasteur, actually in Korea itself. Morning. I actually, is it more it’s evening for you
Spencer Shorte (00:01:41):
It’s evening here it is. Absolutely.
Peter O’Toole (00:01:44):
So we haven’t caught up in ages, so I’ve got loads of personal things I want, I want to catch up on a touch. I’m going to I’ll get straight out. Yeah. We haven’t caught up much since you started over in Korea. Our career started at roughly the same time in, I know you’re a bit older. We’ve had that discussion before in the past, so I know you are a bit older than I am, but actually we both started in core facilities back at roughly the same time. I think you started in Paris in what year?
Spencer Shorte (00:02:18):
2001 August. Yeah.
Peter O’Toole (00:02:21):
Okay. So, and I was York in 2002 October, so we both started and you, so you started the facility over there.
Spencer Shorte (00:02:33):
It wasn’t called the Imagopol in the beginning. When we started getting grandiose in, in the beginning, it was called the CID, the Centre Imagery Dynamic, C I D Centre Imagery Dynamic C I D
Peter O’Toole (00:02:51):
Still doesn’t help me. What does that mean?
Spencer Shorte (00:02:53):
It means the Center of Dynamic Imaging, which doesn’t sound so good. CDI didn’t sound as good and its confused with other terms, acronyms in French. So it became CID as an el er CID That didn’t last long. It got changed very quickly. Someone made it in and wanted to change name within about a year and a half. I believe the name had changed to the to the, you know, the imaging platform, something that
Peter O’Toole (00:03:21):
At least it wasn’t, it, at least it wasn’t the analysis of dynamics. Cause that would have just been sad. Wouldn’t it really choosing an acronym is really important. So if you pick up from there, we won’t, you did your biochemistry degree. So actually we’re both biochemists from the start, you then did your post-doc in Bristol and then actually post-doc across Europe and the U S where in the USA as well. So where did you go in the USA?
Spencer Shorte (00:03:51):
So, yeah, when I finished, I finished in Bristol. We, I was in Bristol post docing for about, I guess, three or four years after my PhD. And the first place I stepped to outside the UK was actually France. I ended up in, in Paris for not that long, maybe a couple of years working as a neurophysiologist in imaging. And from there, I ended up in Charleston, South Carolina having run out of money for postdocs and fellowships in, in Europe. I saw an opportunity with a group that was actually an old competitor to my PhD mentor. And he saw my name and actually recognized it, which, you know, only about 10 people in the world might have even recognized who I was or what it was doing at the time. And so he, Steve Frawley actually was in the medical university of South Carolina and leapt to the opportunities to bring this young, this young scallywag into the US so I got an opportunity to work in the us for a few years, couple of years, two, three years.
Spencer Shorte (00:05:08):
And it was a fabulous place. I loved South Carolina and everything about it was just delicious somehow. So why leave? Yeah. Why leave, why leave Bristol, frankly. Bristol is a fantastic place as well, you know, honestly and you always ask that question when you all, I think every post-doc I’ve ever known it ever got any pleasure out of what they were doing and living where they were living always went through that. Why leave? I don’t want to leave. I want to stay and they trying to grow roots. And then your PhD mentor or your postdoc mentor says to you, you’ve got to move on if you want to make a career. So you’re kind of forced out. You you’re, you’re made to move and they don’t like stone’s gathering, gathering moss. So I actually, I left because I got an opportunity back in Europe and that was the opportunity to come back to to Paris back to Pasteur. So that was, you know, in a nutshell, I kind of made this trip out of the US and then ended coming back to the first place I stopped off at once I left the UK.
Peter O’Toole (00:06:13):
That’s it. But I, you, you, you did your PhD in Bristol, but obviously you’re not, obviously your accent is certainly not.
Spencer Shorte (00:06:23):
No, I was born in London, my family on my mother’s side, hail from Southeast London and North London. Yeah. I was born and brought up in [inaudible].
Peter O’Toole (00:06:34):
You sound like an Arsenal fan should sound a gunner.
Spencer Shorte (00:06:38):
My dad is an absolute total gunner arsenal fan. He’s sick as a dog when they lose to Tottenham, especially I, I did not, I tried not to affiliate too much to one or the other one when i was 13 years old I remember being chased by the arsenal clock end down the street cause they thought I was a spurs supporter. And in fact, I was a Leeds United supporter at the time. It’s really put me out of place.
Peter O’Toole (00:07:06):
It wouldn’t have helped, I’m a Leeds fan, that would not have helped. I take it. You didn’t get caught.
Spencer Shorte (00:07:15):
I did not get caught, but it was a pretty scary thing. London in the 19 end of the 1970s being chased by, you know, what we would call football hooligans who could be, you know, it could be quite violent people given the opportunity.
Peter O’Toole (00:07:33):
I’m quite proud that I actually picked up a gunners accent, but there you are. It just shows how regional London can be. Doesn’t it? I’ve got to say. So I actually Arsenal would be, I’ve got a soft spot for Arsenal And my uncle was a big Arsenal fan. I spent so much time. It was like a grandfather to me spent so much time together listening to the football and he was a big gunner fan, which I’m not. So I’ve always got a soft spot for that.
Spencer Shorte (00:07:59):
I have to, because of my father was into Arsenal. So I that’s as much as I’ll say about it though, I don’t want to get drawn into the tribalism of it, right? Yeah. You’re not a big sports fan. I love to watch great sports, you know, but I can watch any sports. I can, I can watch you put me in front of a sport and say a little bit about the background of the two teams and I will enjoy it. There’s no question. I’ll see the skill in it. I was I enjoyed playing sports when I was young. I played basketball to club level and football and cricket also very high level and did athletics as well. I was actually very sportif when I was, when I was young. And that kind of all ran a ground somehow. Yeah, the tribalism in sport is I think sort of this subscription to being, you know, one team or another, it just never really appealed to me and I kind of shied away from it. As I got older, it became much less interesting to be a part of that tribalism, which just kind of, you know, it’s just a way of being, I suppose, but I love to watch a great football game. I can sit and watch high quality football and really get a big kick out of it.
Peter O’Toole (00:09:13):
Oh, well, I guess that’s best. Especially if it was a football and the ball was a bit high, then you’re setting to get a big kick out of it. So coming back to your time in America, how did you, how daunting was it for you to move from that from the UK first over into Europe and then to America, was that daunting? Were you by yourself when you traveled, did you have a partner
Spencer Shorte (00:09:36):
When there’s kind of an amusing story of how I arrived in Paris? Initially I was working, I had a job really quite a short term job in a hospital working in the Cochin Hospital Hopital Cochin in Central Paris. And the job was in an insomnia unit working in neurophysiology. And I drove from Bristol. Having partied with all my friends are in a big farewell. I drove from Bristol with all of my belongings in the back of the car Golf. And I took the ferry, got into Paris and I arrived in Paris Sunday morning January freezing cold. It must have been like something like the fifth or sixth January. And I thought it was, it was one point I was tired, but I was excited and I thought, I didn’t speak any French. I had nothing. I had actually had no French whatsoever.
Spencer Shorte (00:10:38):
And there were very, very few people on the streets. Paris is, you know, people wake up late and play late. So there really not very many people around. And I remember driving with all my stuff, looking, this was a time where you didn’t have GPS. So got a map out. I’m trying to work out where I’m going and I’m thinking how friendly people seem. I’m speaking to them in English and shouting from the car, which way can I go to get to the hospital? And everyone’s been very helpful. And while I’m driving, I realized actually some cops in their car and thinking they must be looking at my British number, plate thinking. Who’s this weird guy with all of the stuff in the back of his car and the cops are waving to me as I drive by and I’m waving back to them and they’re smiling and calling out to me and I’m smiling and calling back to them.
Spencer Shorte (00:11:24):
And I eventually arrive at destination and I’m absolutely convinced what a wonderful place France and Paris must be. And it wasn’t until I later had parked the car, find it fair that say somebody could park more or less anyway, and realized that I had driven the wrong way up. One of the longest one way streets in the whole of Paris from more or less the exterior all the way into the interior. And the cops had been very generous. They were just sort of, ah, foolish Englishman. You shouldn’t be doing this, but no one really stopped me doing it. And I would chase me from they just waived.
Peter O’Toole (00:12:05):
Stop you just always your friendly in your way
Spencer Shorte (00:12:07):
And had been saying stop now in retrospect. So I actually did start to try to learn French after that. I thought it’d be important to learn, to speak French at our station also to look at road signs would have been helpful too. So yeah, I moved from there to, to the US because of an opportunity that, that arose in the US. And one of the things that really struck me was arriving in a country that speaks English or think that would be pretty easy arriving in South Carolina. Actually, nobody could understand a single word I said, and I swear, people in Paris could understand me better speaking English than people listening to me, speaking English in South Carolina, they did not understand the word I was saying. And guess what? I didn’t understand a word they were saying. So some way with the accent, the adjustment didn’t make any sense to me, but I think more so in South Carolina being British was a fascination.
Spencer Shorte (00:13:04):
So people were interested in you because you were British and they wanted to hear you speak because it sounded so bizarre to them. So I kinda, I kind of enjoyed that and there was definitely a fish out of water feeling given South Carolina is the home of, you know effectively a history of slavery. You know, it was quite a challenging place for people of color and has a long quite tumults history with regards to the, the civil war. And a lot of that is sort of still there, there was a lot of Confederate flags and a notion of the grand Confederacy that the statues and the the the plantations, in fact, you can still visit the plantations are very beautiful places to visit in fact. And that was for me, fascinating. And I had never, you know, my, my background is as a Caribbean on my father’s side. And going to South Carolina was frankly scary things to do. And most of my family on my father’s side, I found this remarkable that I would even consider the possibility to go there, but it was work. And
Peter O’Toole (00:14:18):
Then you realized you realize that it was going to be like that before you left there to go there.
Spencer Shorte (00:14:23):
I had the stereotype in my mind. So basically we have stereotypes where I had never been to a state in the South of the US apart from Texas, I think so I knew very little of what is the South of the United States. I knew bigger cities, or I knew California, or, you know, other parts of the US where I have family and I’m going to South Carolina, Carolina was a complete fish out of water experience, but it would be for most, any American living in the metropolis metropolis cities of the Northeast or of the West coast. There’s a definite sense of stereotype. And you use that stereotype to try to judge what you’re dealing with. I learned very quickly that stereotype was not right, and that in fact, I did a, a disfavor of perceiving the stereotype and trying to judge people based on the stereotype. It wasn’t matter of color or type it was everything I thought I understood about it was based on a fiction. And actually the reality of it was much more human and much more exciting. And and engaging. I actually really fell in love with the culture, I think is a wonderful place. I would recommend anybody to live there for any, you know, if I had the opportunity
Peter O’Toole (00:15:46):
And you learn languages course as well.
Spencer Shorte (00:15:54):
Yeah. Where are ma eating pants?
Peter O’Toole (00:15:59):
Oh, I look I’m on a microscope. People don’t often see me on a microscope anymore. So I think these, I presume this is over in Pasteur looking at who we’ve got in there as Jean-Yves I think, is it at the,
Spencer Shorte (00:16:10):
That is Jean-Yves Tinevez and Florian Ruckerl. And that is them stood next to a microscope, which we’re very proud of. Both of them contributed enormously to a project over several years building this one of a kind Beastie that effectively as a microscope that uses micro mirrors to try to shape angular projections of light into the into the focal plane of the image. And it was it was a labor of love, but it was a funded labor of love. And I think this image is Jean-Yves actually handing over the controls of the microscope to Florian who was then going to take over the development on the system. And Jean-Yves had of course built something in a lab view to control the microscope. And this is him showing Florian what they can do with the spacial and angular illumination on the, on the system at this time.
Spencer Shorte (00:17:12):
I, this picture is, it means quite a lot to me. These, these guys were really stalwart in the lab. They were great developers. They were great people to work with. They both sort of moved on to other, other areas and aspects. Now they’re both still in Pasteur. We’re still sort of associated one way or another, but at that time we were all kind of working together in a space where you could brainstorm and live out your dreams a little bit and inside the lab and the development space. So it was kind of a fun time.
Peter O’Toole (00:17:42):
It was, it, it was interesting there, you said that this was funded. And I think that’s a key point actually. So for those who aren’t with core facilities, core facilities are classically technical staff. So don’t do primary research. We’re there to serve I, to an extent, some people really hate that word by the way, but we’re there to support users, but when we do our own research, it’s not, we have just like any academic group, any classic research group, it needs to be funded mostly because it’s not otherwise we’re using the institutes funding. If we just do it. What’s your opinion on that?
Spencer Shorte (00:18:23):
Yeah, I’m absolutely with you on that. Peter, I think this is a criteria that certainly all the people working in, in our facilities I think are definitely all believe the same, have the same mantra is necessary if you, if you do something that has a value that value should be recognized by peer review somehow. And I think the funding is not so much how much funding you get. It’s more about having the peer review of what you’re doing. And so having that officiated peer review, I think is really a critical part of the process. And I think this allows them to, to, to, to, to make for the liberty of research. I love the word service. And I think from what I know of you, Pete, I think you do too. I think that that’s part of the motivation of being in science.
Spencer Shorte (00:19:17):
That is it’s a privilege to be able to take liberties with your spending, a lot of money, spending a lot of resources to do things that might be deemed a little bit crazy, you know, some, some cases to take chances and that can cost money. And it’s, you, you work with few resources and often when there’s few resources that drives things forward. But at the same time, you need to have that, that, that stop no go type go, no go type decision making point. And that can often be through peer review. I think that that’s really very critical. So whether it be funding or whether it actually be internal review is another way to do that. We use funding though is the main key criteria to allow engineers the opportunity to develop their own ideas. They make an exchange buying a little bit, their own time back, or being able to employ somebody to walk on a project that is a pet project for them. If they can bring in money to fund post-docs or PhDs or MSC students, then go at it, you know, have at it.
Peter O’Toole (00:20:29):
Sorry about that Spencer. I just dropped out for a second. Thinking about your, the patent side though, and the, that side, it’s not the only thing you actually spun out itself. I think probably your most famous for, outside of science, or that’s not the right word outside of your facilities and your directorships and everything else is Stratocore. So that’s a, a startup company for a booking charging system. How did that start at what motivated you and what kept you motivated to see it through it? Cause this, this is no small task or issue.
Spencer Shorte (00:21:09):
It was a much bigger task than I thought it was going to be. Yeah. I guess it’s no longer a startup, I guess, because we’ve been around for this is our 10th year of full operation. This would have been back in 2010. We came to a point where we were running a software that we had written in the facility. We were using our software to manage our own affairs, to manage the the access to the equipment billing processes. Some of the administration, user management, these kinds of things. And that software had been running since 2003 and it was built purely by the team when it was in its infancy at a point where there were just four engineers, including myself and effectively, we were challenged to make available the equipment we had. And so building a software, we had one, it guru, a young Matthew Marshall was working with us at that time.
Spencer Shorte (00:22:15):
And he in a summer project when he first arrived, decided to lay out a sort of plan. Yeah, this is so Matt is the guy in the middle though. And, and the software got, I think we broke it within about a year and a half. The team broke it the users broke it and we sort of worked out what was wrong with it. And we came back in and read it. And then to the requirements of the voices of the engineers, the voices of the users, voices that the scientists and researchers using the equipment and came up with something that was much more substantial and looked like it go on much longer. And we began to get requests for the software among our colleagues through Elmi and places like this, when we would go to meetings and eventually we started to help others giving them the software directly.
Spencer Shorte (00:23:09):
They could then deploy the software in their own space, but of course we eventually started getting calls for support, and we hadn’t really counted on that. So we started giving support to third parties, across three continents. We would have people in Australia and across Europe in the US and we call support where we couldn’t do the support any longer. And that was after about four or five years, we got 2010, we got to a point where we had to do something, which was affectively either spin it out, give it to someone else sell it or build it ourselves, we went for the build it ourselves. Because I think at that time we were, and still are very much focused on being a part of the community. So there’s a purpose to have these kinds of solutions, which is you want science to benefit from it at the end of the day.
Spencer Shorte (00:24:07):
So in the same way, the core facilities are there to facilitate researchers to do their job. Then we saw the software as being a way to facilitate the facilitators. And in that sense I think that that was really the motivation and it really still is the people that put their hearts into it and their minds into it, the users that give us feedback. We’ve got tremendous lamps around the wall using the software now, and they regularly criticized us in order to drive things forward. And we, you know, we welcome that and take the opportunity to develop the software. And the net result is, is, is basically been a great success. Now, as I say, 10 years in we have over 200 clients around the world including, you know, some of the top imaging labs. We’re very proud. So
Peter O’Toole (00:25:00):
I’ve got to say, so we don’t have StratiCore, sorry. I love the company. I love the team because the team, you mentioned that it’s part of the community. And I think the likes of Leonor that are there, they really are part of the community. You go to meetings, it’s all about academics and academics, and it’s not actually a lot of the companies have real scientists and people who are part of the community integrated in. I think actually the team you’ve got set up there is phenomenally good at being part of the community. And don’t just look after the company, they are interested in us, regardless of who you buy from or anything. They, they, they’re just great people actually. So I think you don’t really want choosing and, or being lucky by the way. I think there’s a bit of both probably lucky of bringing them in.
Peter O’Toole (00:25:51):
So you’ve done two big steps in your career and developed it through those companies. But it’s not just companies because you’ve gone through your, your undergraduate, your PhD, your post docing around different places. Went back to Pasteur set up the Imagopol into the, the very successful entity that it is now. I was going to use the word beast or monster, but they have negative connotations too. And it’s certainly nothing negative. I’ve been fortunate enough to, to review your facilities in the past and that they’re exceptional. They’re inspiring for other facilities. So looking out from the outside in, you can see where you can aspire towards and the team around that you inspire within it, but then you’ve ended up over in Korea and that’s quite different role that you have. And I, I, I don’t actually know everything about your role. So this is chief scientific officer at the Institut Pasteur Korea. That sounds like a pretty big deal. Tell us more about, I really don’t know much about it. So please
Spencer Shorte (00:27:02):
So I, the way to begin is probably to say, well, Institut Pasteur, Korea does so IPK as we call it, it’s a part of the International Pasteur Network. Which for those who don’t know, so there’s the Institut Pasteur in Paris. And then there are 32 institutes distributed around the world, mostly in endemic risk disease, infectious disease, risk areas historically laying out a footprint of if you like a kind of soft colonialism of, of French interests around the world. So parts of North Africa and countries like Vietnam, Cambodia that have histories with French diplomacy, if you like. And then some of the newer institutes like Shanghai, Montevideo, Uruguay IPK have actually been founded on the basis of introducing new technologies. So historically these international network was founded on the basis of the need for a vaccine, for example. So you might come to Cambodia and you would, you would want to establish a vaccine for smallpox, let’s say. And so you have to find all of the utilities, the animal models that you need to use, et cetera, to generate what you need and also generate vaccines. So they would do that locally. And so there was a public health need that they were answering nine times out of 10, IPK was not founded on that basis of a public health need to serve a specific need
Peter O’Toole (00:28:38):
IPK being Institut Pasteur Korea just for clarity.
Spencer Shorte (00:28:41):
Okay. Just to clarify. So IPK as we call it it was founded on, on the need to discover new drugs for the infectious disease space effectively. So it was unusual in the sense that it was founded in 2004 on the basis of a heavy investment on the part of the Korean government in collaboration with the Institut Pasteur in Paris and some collaboration from the French authorities and then the local government, regional collaboration from the so-called Normandy province and effectively this investment in 2004, something in the range of 300 million dollars laid out a 10 year plan to develop phenotypic imaging. So using imaging microscopy as a high throughput tool to re psychological profiles to read the, the, the image profiles of cells and use that as a screening tool.
Spencer Shorte (00:29:43):
So this way the reason that we could introduce models based on infection such as malaria or hepatitis or whichever infectious disease you have to choose and build a cell based model that could then be imaged in a high throughput context and allow us then to screen in the range of tens to hundreds of thousands of compounds to find a new drug candidates. And we’ve had some degree of success in tuberculosis or some degree we’ve had great success in tuberculosis actually have a drug being spun out. Actually at this point in time in Africa it’s just gone to clinical two B phase two B trials, and we all working on antibiotic resistance and new antibiotic alternatives effectively along with some cancer models as well. And hepatitis we have worked on COVID and are working on COVID right now as well and have been using repurposing screens in that context. So basically it’s an early drug discovery Institute. That’s that’s what IPK task and my role in it is to help negotiate the rejuvenation of the Institute into a new era that is being driven more by new types of imaging technologies. So we’re sort of updating it at this point.
Peter O’Toole (00:31:17):
That was going to be my next question, actually, because you set up as that’s almost a high content screening, the imaging side, going through that there are new technologies that are very disruptive, I think, in, in just looking for new vaccines, you mode of activity of disease to help have understanding. So where are you moving the technology towards what new technologies do you see as really enabling and game changers?
Spencer Shorte (00:31:46):
I think that right now, if we look specifically at a high content phenotypic screening, the actual process of catching the image seems to be pretty much optimized from the point of view of a conventional imaging space. So, you know, having multichannel a flora force is giving you a signal that you can measure and get an understanding of whether a cell is impacted or not in a model. There are now opportunities that I think are mainly being driven by the informatics space. So in fact, it’s not so much the microscopies that we might introduce. It’s more about the, the framework of, and the context of the workflow for the image analysis, which I think has been driven now by my deep learning. Dare I say it artificial intelligence approaches but let’s say deep learning, really the key here and and machine learning processes.
Spencer Shorte (00:32:43):
So even as she quite quite routine systems now being equipped routine software’s for imaging now being equipped with machine learning approaches where you can click and learn the phenotype of your choice and then distinguish it from you know, change in that female at the time. I, I see the future now as being a rejuvenation of the equipment. So the equipment can actually be in terms of hardware actually be locked into a context where it can be used both in BSL three you know, high-end biosecurity context. But at the same time is amenable to good data management. So having this big data flows where effectively we would run screens classically in the past and just end up with screens that would be put on magnetic cartridges and then put in a box and would be completely unusable to us afterwards. So it would have the dust response, cause it might be finished. I think now the future is going to be that data stays live. And so things like Jason Swedlow working on OME, these kinds of things are critically important for the future because I think data management is going to be the first step of generating. If you like a Corpus of images that allows us to really get a handle on using deep learning and machine learning type approaches.
Peter O’Toole (00:34:11):
So I’m going to challenge that. There’s two things. Firstly, you said you were very cautious of the word artificial intelligence, and actually people say that I’ve got an AI brain and then I realized it wasn’t a compliment artificial being not real and the intelligence, not just so not really intelligence at all. So actually you asked when they say I’ve got an AI brain, they’re just saying I’m pretty dumb. But if we look at the things like the art, the art using deep learning machine learning and artificial intelligence, it sounds so simple. It sounds like we can make massive steps forward really fast. And yet that integration of data management, the application of deep learning is really frustratingly slow. It sounds so conceptually easy to put into play and just do it for evidence beforehand the ground truths to prove it and to, and to teach the machine learning. Actually it’s proving really, really difficult and what we can see without eyes, we can learn so much. And yet the computer still can’t see some of those subtleties and learn those subtleties. Yeah. How many years before it starts to make profound impacts, do you think for machine deep learning machine learning, artificial intel, put those together? How, how long until we really start seeing that being commonplace and making big steps forward? So I
Spencer Shorte (00:35:38):
Like to think about it in terms of what we’ve seen already. And I think in 2004, when this Institute was founded, it had, you know, it was a one trick pony. I had one thing to do one job, and that was to automate imaging microscopy into a high throughput context, which would mean being able to handle tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of samples a day. And that was achieved within about 10 years from start to finish literally from putting the building block down to having a working Institute that was equipped. And that was at a time where, as I remember correctly, a lot of, a lot of experts did not see the value in that for academic pursuit. They saw it only as a something that will be used by drug companies to find drugs. And in fact, the value of, of high content screening has been not bad.
Spencer Shorte (00:36:34):
In fact, it’s been the, the academic value. We see now publications enormous numbers of publications coming out now that are releasing screens at the same time, because that was a part of the academic process. So that throughput is not something that should just be for the industrial purpose of generating drugs. And that’s certainly not our, we, we, we use but given it took 10 years to get to it’s pumping and working and making results. Now we’ve got to 15 years and while it’s getting kind of old and it’s a bit outdated and we need to replace some of the high throughput systems and we’ve got to replace some of the pipelines, we can replace some of the computers for sure. And I think that it’ll be a gain. The, the in deep learning is just sort of burst onto the scene.
Spencer Shorte (00:37:23):
And we’re seeing a lot of computer scientists generating algorithms right next to labs that are using them for infectious biology and for cell biology. I believe there are lots of challenges that I have to do with computing power. Frameworking pipelining workflows, data management decisions about rigor, reproducibility, all that kind of stuff. I think it’s going to take another 10 years to get that. So the 10 years from now, we can walk in and go, gosh, this is easy. Isn’t it you’ll press the button. And your malaria parasites will be counted in a blink or your diagnostic and field on a microscope will be done through a smartphone. But I think it’s going to be about 10 years for that to really happen in a way that is sufficiently accessible. I cheap and therefore have a use to the popular the popular the larger part of the community.
Peter O’Toole (00:38:20):
Yeah. I think what you just pointed out there, is pretty set. Again, sounds simple, but actually what I want it to do is say, I want the computer to pop out and go, have you noticed there’s a different subpopulation here? There’s actually a cluster, a population. Yeah. And then we have to work out why that is important and then challenge and look at those questions. Right? Yeah. These are challenging in itself. I’d like to know, come to challenging times for yourself personally. So actually I’m going to start here. So this is this looks pretty horrendous, actually, this picture, this is, I presume your car
Spencer Shorte (00:39:00):
That, yeah, that was it was actually a leased car, which was good.
Peter O’Toole (00:39:07):
So this is just for anyone who’s listening. This is completely written off. There’s nothing left really much left on the front, the side, the side of the it’s pretty battered.
Spencer Shorte (00:39:21):
That’s in France. That’s actually in a field about two, three kilometers from the village that I live in in France. I was driving to pick up my wife in a car that we’d had for a couple of years. Actually one of my favorite golfs of all time, the the golf seven, I think it is. And I was picking my wife from the airport and I just got out of the out of the village and it was summer. And as you can see all that grass and it’s fields of wheat and barley. And in fact, as the wheat and barley gets high, some of the faster roads, the cut across the fields, the visibility gets reduced. So you have to rely on knowing when four way crossings are coming and follow the French rule, which is give way to the right.
Spencer Shorte (00:40:14):
So at every four way cross, you would look to your right and make sure that no one was approaching you, because if they were, you would have to stop or slow down and give way to them. And indeed, as I was contemplating this, looking to my right, probably going a little quick as everyone does in that region a chap in another car, similar sized vehicle going quite a bit faster than me came from the left and had not looked to his right at all. And proceeded to, as you see, take the front off of my car, the entire front of the car was destroyed in the impact. And I, I put, I was a challenging time for so many reasons that I could go into my wife was coming back from you know, a family bereavement at the time returning from, to the airport.
Spencer Shorte (00:41:11):
I was recovering from a long-term absence from the lab because I actually had a long-term illness myself and was just recovering and everything was coming together. It was all hunky-dory, everything was looking up. It was going to look up. This was going to be things getting better. And then a drunk driver guy who just had a couple of beers, too many during lunch, a tore through my car and actually would have killed me. If you see the way the front of the car has been impacted, a millisecond difference would have been that impact to the driver’s door, which is the door behind your head. That’s trying to sign his left-hand drive. That would have been the end pretty much. And I remember spinning in the car, the car going out of control. I was thinking b*****d. I love this car b*****d.. I love this car, b*****d. I love this car.
Spencer Shorte (00:42:02):
I spun and came to a stop, really a long range to the field because I’d been hit so hard. I remember thinking, S**t the car’s written, Ooh, excuse me. I shouldn’t have said swear words you have to bleep that. I remember thinking are my legs still there. That was the first thing I thought and I’m sure enough. Eventually I was lucky it was a modern car and basically everything deployed to protect, you know, the individuals in the car. So I was actually very lucky. I wasn’t seriously injured, few broken ribs and the I think the explosives on the, on the airbags that broken, I actually injured my, my, my hands and stuff, but it was, I was very lucky to walk away from this. I was livid. Absolutely live it as well.
Peter O’Toole (00:42:51):
I say to the airbags still look fully deployed. And I think you just sent me your whole family album of pictures. So you probably don’t know what you’ve actually sent me. Cause it looks like airbag stuck to you now, where in the air bag, I presume this is a cat three or cat four facility at this point in Korea.
Spencer Shorte (00:43:15):
Yeah. That’s a rare appearance of the CSO. The, the scientific director in the BSL three labs where the high content screening happens in IPK. And I think that that’s Eui Ho Kim came, I think in a group of some tech in working on COVID in finance doing COVID screens there. And I came in just to egg, everybody along and take a look at how things were progressing. And so we, we silly for a moment in the, in the BSL three,
Peter O’Toole (00:43:44):
I guess it obviously didn’t work so what. I have no idea what this is. It doesn’t look very comfortable though.
Spencer Shorte (00:43:57):
This is the leg of my son after he had in South Carolina which we, I still have family in South Carolina. Actually met my wife in South Carolina. I didn’t mention I met my wife in South Carolina. My mother installed the mother-in-law still lives there. And we go back every ever since. I guess 20 years now, we’ve always just gone back to South Carolina every summer. We’d love to swim. There it’s beautiful swim. And it’s a beautiful swimming. And about late August when the sea begins to fill with jellyfish on the South Carolina coast North Carolina coast actually is sharks and Florida the same, less sharks, mainly dolphins and jellyfish in South Carolina waters. And my son for the first time in all of the years, he’d been swimming there actually run into a jellyfish and there, it was a poor guy. He limped around for really, quite a long time after this. And I always remember thinking, this has never happened. We didn’t believe this was possible. This was meant be a warning sign to think before you leap.
Peter O’Toole (00:45:07):
So I presume you didn’t treat it in the way that everyone is told in that you’re meant to treat it.
Spencer Shorte (00:45:13):
In fact, we did, we did not do what you’re thinking of.
Peter O’Toole (00:45:19):
Yeah. Let’s, not go there. Otherwise you’re in trouble. If you do that.
Spencer Shorte (00:45:24):
Yeah, my bad pun come on in. Thanks. We didn’t treat it. And, and you’re, you’re better off actually to let the, the you know, so you soothing creams and just the very traditional anti histamine type approaches. There, there was nothing special to do. You’ve just got to get through the initial 30 minutes of absolutely blinding pain that to this day, I’m amazed at my son still loves to swim. He still loves to go in the water there. I think if that had happen to me at the age, he was then I think I probably wouldn’t get back into the sea ever again.
Peter O’Toole (00:46:04):
Do you still drive.
Spencer Shorte (00:46:06):
I do still drive, but I don’t try to avoid it if I can actually.
Peter O’Toole (00:46:10):
Yeah. You had that bad experience, but you’re still driving. You said it had a bad experience.
Spencer Shorte (00:46:15):
Yeah. Yeah. There’s, there’s a truth in that. Yeah, for sure.
Peter O’Toole (00:46:19):
To a degree anyway. So you got how many children?
Spencer Shorte (00:46:24):
I have one child who is a handful no he’s not . Yeah, we have one, one child. My son
Peter O’Toole (00:46:34):
They have. How old is he now
Spencer Shorte (00:46:37):
Now? He’s he’s 17 years.
Peter O’Toole (00:46:41):
Did you, did your wife and your son follow you to Korea?
Spencer Shorte (00:46:46):
Yes. In fact, my wife was probably one of the main reasons that we decided to come here. In fact I was not completely convinced. I’d been involved with the Institute at the beginning. I wasn’t sure it would be a good use of my time. But in fact, yeah, I think at a personal level, at a family level this was like a little family mission. We felt that this was something that we could do together as a family and somehow it would be a binding experience facing the challenges together, et cetera. I knew in fact, that’s exactly what it is. Turned out to be a binding experience.
Peter O’Toole (00:47:32):
And I presume this is in Korea.
Spencer Shorte (00:47:36):
That’s actually a picture. My wife loves to walk and she also loves to take pictures. She’s very good at taking pictures, unlike myself. And this is actually a picture that my, my wife has taken. I seem to remember she took it when I was with her. In fact, running off with the camera, giving me the dog saying, wait, they’re running off and taking this picture. And she stole the opportunity to do so. It’s actually a park that believe it or not, we live right in the center of Seoul, but this park, it’s like a little mountain that is not even 15 minutes walk to get to this point from our doorstep. So you can live in an apartment and see all of the city there. But Seoul is just full of mountains and career is just full of mountains. So there’s mountain books everywhere.
Spencer Shorte (00:48:23):
There’s Mountain be behind the Institute where I work, where people go and walk at lunchtime and you have these beautiful views. You get, you have to climb up sort of fairly steep pathways, but the Korean government loves to make people walk. And they, they, they make the paths very gentle so that you can, you know, they’re, they’re kind of carpeted in, in, in grass and sand to allow you to move around easily. They make it very easy for you to climb mountains, quite impressive mountains. And you’ve got these beautiful views. So everyone is into walking here which all it just surprises me. You’ve got a city of 15 million people. Everyone is walking. Everyone is really taking the opportunity to enjoy mounting up, hiking up mountains.
Peter O’Toole (00:49:07):
It actually makes a really good zoom background. And I feel really guilty because I am in the middle of this brilliant picture, completely ruining your wife’s picture. Cause it is a stunning picture. You said your wife listens to podcasts on a, I think you words are storming around the park. So is that because she gets really cross with you or no, I’m joking.
Spencer Shorte (00:49:29):
She’s a power Walker. So this is your pet dog I presume this is my pet dog, the made the journey with us. So we took our dog and our two cats on the family challenge. I have those as well. I was told in no uncertain terms that because I would have dropped the cats. I think I was told in no uncertain terms. If the cats didn’t come, no one was coming.
Peter O’Toole (00:49:51):
Yeah. I’ve got to say, I feel really intimidated by these two cats. One looking at whoever’s watching this right now. And the other one looking right at me, It’s a daunting picture at that point. So I started off at a challenging times. We looked at it, your personal life and some of the things that’s happened there. What about in your career? What has been the most challenging time you’ve had to face and how have you overcome that?
Spencer Shorte (00:50:23):
I think with the, I mean there are probably a lot, there’s probably a whole series of things that I could say were challenging. They were challenging in different ways. And for different reasons at different phases of your career, things will challenge you when you’re, when you’re a PhD student or, you know, versioning, post-doc a really different to the things that you, that will really challenge you sort of downstream standing up and giving a talk was challenging. When I was doing my PhD. It was, you know, you, you had the anxiety of standing up and presenting your data and it was hard enough to actually put it all together. Now somehow all of that’s been facilitated and automated and you can put a slide presentation together of data and literally in seconds nowadays. So I imagine what challenges a postdoc now is, or PhD student, a young scientist, probably different to what challenge me back in the day. I think the biggest challenges I faced have been probably the decision of where I was going. I didn’t really know where I was going when I chose to do science. I knew I wanted to be a scientist. I had known that since I was old enough to think quite honestly but I didn’t know where I wanted to be a scientist or how I want to be a scientist where, where, where it would take me or what, what I would want to do. And I think it was very challenging for me to find somewhere between trying to get a job that paid and you could, you know, have some kind of reliable income for a period of time that might be renewable somewhere between that sort of early to mid career. And then the question of, why am I doing this?
Spencer Shorte (00:52:18):
What is my, am I trying to find the answer to a question? What is the purpose of what I’m doing? And in fact, I think I didn’t really find that until I came back from the US 2001 and joined Institut Pasteur as a permanent staff at that time as a permanent offer. But I think I understood the purpose of what I wanted to do and realized, in fact, I done the job of being a research scientist and jumped all of the hurdles are meant to jump as you moved to getting tenured, for example, and I could have stood for tenure in South Carolina and probably sure that would have option. But in fact, I realized that I was not motivated by that. And in fact, the idea of service and science in the sense of science having a function the it has a role in society became very powerful for me.
Spencer Shorte (00:53:18):
And so I gladly took this alternative route to turn towards working in more facility driven context and a more team oriented con context and believe fundamentally that that has an enormously high value that serves the purpose of assuring that those that don’t want to do that don’t have to. But at the same time, making sure that at the same time, those that want to pursue their research, have the opportunity to do so. And knowing that whatever research ideas may come to me or the people I’m working with, the sums that somehow translate into a benefit for the many as much as just the realization of a specific point in a specific question for a specific few,
Peter O’Toole (00:54:09):
I’ve got I’ve got, let me change tack take, just to get a bit more, you, you probably don’t realize that Alex Sossick and myself so we both got a friend shared friend with Alex, and I’ve been playing a bit of ping pong with you. So every time you email or speak to Alex, you pass on your regards to me. And every time I speak to Alex I’m passing my regards onto yourself. So actually I have to say, I said, I was talking to you today. And Alex said, Oh, please pass on my regards, Alex, you’ve now got evidence. I do pass on your regards to Spencer. We didn’t know how long we could carry this on, but every email, if you go back, we’ll say, Oh, by the way, Pete, or by the way, Alex says, hello, we couldn’t be there
Spencer Shorte (00:54:55):
A chain. I’m going to break that chain. I write directly to Alex.
Peter O’Toole (00:54:59):
Yeah. You’ve got to say you got, no, you don’t break that chain anyway. So quick questions for you. We quite often chill out in the evenings at different meetings and stuff. What would be your preference, wine or beer?
Spencer Shorte (00:55:16):
I used to be a wine without a question person. I think I was young then I thought of wine as being sophisticated. And now I’m old enough to realize that I’m not that sophisticated and I love, I love a beer. I really enjoy a beer in a way that I’m ashamed to admit. I enjoy specifically stouts.
Peter O’Toole (00:55:41):
I was just about to ask you if it was a Porter, stout, Ale, or lager. So its a stout,
Spencer Shorte (00:55:47):
I will definitely weigh in on the side of a Porter as well. I love a milk stout. I buy all kinds of different stouts. I go to breweries to taste styles. I love stout. There you go. You had it. You found it
Peter O’Toole (00:56:01):
Nice dark. I don’t know what to get you next time. Line it up in front of you so that that’s nice and easy. Sitting at home. What would you rather do? Watch TV or read a book?
Spencer Shorte (00:56:14):
Peter O’Toole (00:56:15):
These are quick fire questions. Come on.
Spencer Shorte (00:56:18):
Well, TV’s not really the, yeah, I guess I would say I would probably watch TV if it was a, I don’t know, TV. Yeah, TV
Peter O’Toole (00:56:33):
I take you back if you could watch any TV pro what is your, what is your, what is your genre TV? What do you like to watch on TV?
Spencer Shorte (00:56:41):
Well, before CNN and BBC,
Peter O’Toole (00:56:45):
News all the time, if you had a choice, what sort of thing would you engage with on TV? Is it going to be comedy? Is it going to be factual is going to be fictional.
Spencer Shorte (00:56:55):
I love comedy and it’s something I miss about Britain is the constant diet of high quality comedy, irreverent comedy. And I love the, you know, the whole British sense of humor and yeah, the irreverent comedy I missed.
Peter O’Toole (00:57:13):
So at home, would you would you get, if you were, would you rather eat in or eat out
Spencer Shorte (00:57:21):
Before COVID, before COVID I would prefer to eat out I Love eating out,
Peter O’Toole (00:57:31):
Eating in. Would you get a takeaway?
Spencer Shorte (00:57:33):
Okay. Before COVID I, if I have to time and I know they’re not the constraint I love, I enjoy cooking my partner and your partner is a good cook. She is now
Peter O’Toole (00:57:50):
What now, just for this podcast. Cause you know, she will listen on a walk when she’s storming up a Hill.
Spencer Shorte (00:57:55):
I think the two of us, part of our our relationship I think has been actually we enjoy cooking together. We, we sometimes take the time to cook together. Sometimes we’ll cook separately and we enjoy that as well. But I think we’ve sort of learned and honed our cooking skills together.
Peter O’Toole (00:58:14):
So you cook sometimes cook separately. I presume you mean on different days and not cooking one meal each for
Spencer Shorte (00:58:20):
Well, yeah. One might offer to cook for everybody would be the idea
Peter O’Toole (00:58:30):
It’s British humor, isn’t it? So you’re a perfect person to ask is long haul or short haul flights in normal times.
Spencer Shorte (00:58:41):
I actually prefer long haul flights cause I think that’s the only time you can justify it. The necessity of flying in France, which is a fairly, it’s fairly large country. You can fly from Paris to Nice rather quickly, but bottom line is you can get a train pretty quickly from one end to the other as well. So why would you take the plane? It doesn’t really make that much sense. I’m probably going to lose air miles now with Air France for saying that, but you know, that’s the truth of the matter long haul flights I think are exciting. They still have the magic of of, you know, flying is something special. Isn’t it? You get that on long haul
Peter O’Toole (00:59:22):
And you know what I think long haul is the only time you can really switch off. Yeah, I don’t, I don’t, I actually, I, the last couple of times I have had to work on the long hauls as well, but for most of it, you can have a glass of wine or two and just indulge in movies. The only time I get to watch movies, I didn’t realize I liked them so much until I started doing a few long haul each year. But what’s your favorite publication that you have authored or co-authored? What is your favorite publication?
Spencer Shorte (00:59:53):
Probably my favorite publication. Ooh, that’s a difficult one. The coal that as well. I think Cole third. Ooh, that’s really very difficult paid.
Peter O’Toole (01:00:09):
Okay. You can choose two.
Spencer Shorte (01:00:12):
Right. Okay. In that case then I would say probably I, I would say actually, maybe I shouldn’t even hesitate about it. It’s the Nature Medicine 20, I guess it would be 2007, 2006, I think which is the with Freddy Frischnecht, who’s now in Heidelberg. Who’s a very gifted parasitologist and actually inspired me to really understand the value of looking at parasitology as a cell biology problem. Which he does to, to, to a T now and in that paper is sort of story of the malaria sporozoites moving into, from the mosquito bite site, the ear of a mouse, and then entering into the vessels of the of the mouse being delivered eventually to the liver. And it’s just one of the most astounding pieces of work. I think I was very lucky to be among so many very talented people. But particularly Freddy and Genevieve Milan is not actually an author, but she’s a very gifted very senior parasitologist and, and pasta who gave us the ideas and the audacity. To actually even try to make that experiment work. And I think that was, yeah, that was a joy. That paper that paper, I would say.
Peter O’Toole (01:01:46):
So we are nearly out of time. So you say, I have to pick this picture because this is, I don’t know, who’s on the kayak first, but the number of pictures I have been sent by different people that have them with a kayak, there’s this, something about it. Third, fourth, maybe even fifth person with a kayak
Spencer Shorte (01:02:07):
You could collate, I think as a kayak is a, is a state of mind, isn’t it, it’s something that everybody feels a certain, there’s a certain freedom of being there. This picture is actually of my son when he was I think perhaps nine years old, 10 years old. The kayaker were in is in South Carolina and we were stopped because there were fish jumping out of the water over the bow of the boat. And we were trying to catch a picture and I love this picture because you see my foot at the back. I sort of, kind of just laid back and I was just taking in the silence of where we were and the, the I think just the serenity of the moment. So it was always yeah, something that just stuck in my mind as being a wonderful experience at a wonderful time of development of my young son at that time. And I haven’t been in a kayak for a very long time since that, for all kinds of different reasons. I think my back allow me to even, even steer a kayak nowadays.
Peter O’Toole (01:03:17):
That’s an age thing, Spencer.
Spencer Shorte (01:03:20):
I miss that. I miss that view sometimes.
Peter O’Toole (01:03:23):
Yeah, I, I’m just looking through the photos that you sent and you said how you like British comedy and yet you sent me a load of pictures. So this is a, an Aston Martin, which is a J, which I think is actually a bond movie. Are you a complete bond fanatic?
Spencer Shorte (01:03:41):
I was back in the day. I read all of the Ian Flemming when I was eight years old. I think I started reading bond novels Ian Flemming. And I, by the time I was 12, I read them all, I think. So I was a bond fan and this became a part of my life, in fact, because my parents who they make wigs, hair pieces for films and theater and stuff. And in fact, when I was for a young, I was gifted a signed autograph photo from Sean Connery who had come to have his hair piece fitted in my, my parents’ place of business hairdressers in West London. And my, my dad and my mother had asked for this signed copy of the Sean Connery’s autograph photo. So I was very excited by this. Anyway, the point is that picture of the DB five, obviously that’s, you know, the Bond’s car.
Spencer Shorte (01:04:41):
I live vicariously through the youth of my son. So basically I use my son as an excuse to go into the bond exhibition in London a few years back. I think it was like 2012 a year just before know it was 2012, I think it was. And, I use my, my son as an excuse to go to this thing and I enjoyed it probably more, more than he did cause I was, I was on a little childhood trip rushing around looking at all of the old bond paraphernalia, which I like, and it was an opportunity to take my son back so that he could understand he has a British passport and that we still have a connection with Britain despite the fact that we are so rarely back there now. In fact, you know, I hope that he’ll have the opportunity to, to get back to Britain and learn his roots.
Peter O’Toole (01:05:29):
Yeah. Yeah. Wow. I wouldn’t say James Bond is his roots, but there you are. I suppose to root is the right word to use. If, if it was for weeks at the time that you actually got into this, I suppose root is actually the perfect phrase to use at the same time. Isn’t it? So at least I know where your, where your roots come from there. Cause we are, we are out of time now and we haven’t talked about core technologies for life sciences and that’s something if people don’t know about you really must go and look at what core technologies for life science is all about because that’s an initiative that actually yourself, Spencer started up got going and move forward and actually got off the ground. And that’s going very nicely now. So please do look at again, that’s all about community, very much about community and helping scientists around Europe at this point and bringing them together with a common, common need, common voice and common support. But I’m going to leave you with one last question, which is what is your best science joke? And don’t say me,
Spencer Shorte (01:06:33):
I . I thought I got away with this. I thought we had overrun the time.
Peter O’Toole (01:06:38):
I was never gonna let that one slip or just your best joke. Come on. You got, you got a young son. You must have a good joke.
Spencer Shorte (01:06:45):
You put me on the spot. I am, I, I I’m a humorless child. I honestly cannot think of a, you should have prepared me for that. I would have come up with something, but that would involve having a functional memory.
Peter O’Toole (01:07:04):
Well, back to artificial intelligence, aren’t we,
Spencer Shorte (01:07:07):
We’re going to have to go through the joke Pete. So you are the, the humor mister.
Peter O’Toole (01:07:11):
Now my question to yourself. One day you can , you can flip these tables round and then I’ll do one
Spencer Shorte (01:07:21):
Well on that bombshell. I’m afraid I’m not gonna be able to give you a joke. You know, what’s going to happen. We’re going to sign off here. And then a joke is going to pop into my head.
Peter O’Toole (01:07:31):
Yeah. But don’t tell me who that person is because that’d be rude. Spencer. It’s just been really lovely to catch up with you again. Thank you very much. Thank you everyone for actually watching or listening to The Microscopists. Don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel or whichever subscription, whichever channel you’re actually listening or watching this Tis worth watching them just for the pictures that we’ve seen today. And there are some great pictures of food. He obviously loves his food. Cause there are a ton of pictures that he sent to glorious food markets that you can see through to yeah, really fine food. Which I bet you didn’t cook that. Did you Spencer?
Spencer Shorte (01:08:11):
That one is, I don’t think that’s us.
Peter O’Toole (01:08:16):
I you’re too messy to do something that smart. Anyway, I actually thank you everyone. And thanks Spencer. Take care.
Thank you for listening to The Microscopists, a Bitesize Bio podcast sponsored by Zeiss Microscopy. To view all audio and video recordings from this series, please visit Bitesizebio.Com/The-Microscopists.