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Alex Chen

Alex has a PhD in Virology and Immunology from the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Research fellow with a working knowledge of molecular and cellular immunology seeking opportunities in the medical-related field. Interested in the areas of vaccine and drug development. Extensive research experience using flow-cytometry, cell culture, murine animal models, and biomedical approaches. Sound knowledge in a variety of computer-related tasks. Excellent oral and written communication skills and objective-oriented.

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Articles by Alex Chen

Virus under magnifying glass representing counting viruses using flow virometry

Flow Cytometry Gone Viral: Introducing Flow Virometry

By Alex Chen | January 6, 2022

Do you want to know about a cool way to detect and tell the difference between virus particles? Then read on to discover flow virometry!

A person holding power tools doing DIY to depict making DIY chemically competent cells

How to Make Your Own Chemically Competent Cells

By Alex Chen | November 17, 2021

We’ll show you how to make a DIY stock of chemically competent E. coli, the workhorse in the molecular biology laboratory.

Show Your Molecular TALEN(T)

Show Your Molecular TALEN(T)

By Alex Chen | August 1, 2019

Introduction Did you know that the idea of using genetic engineering to ameliorate certain human diseases was viewed as ‘science fiction’ only 10 short years ago? While cell mutagenesis studies and genetic knockout experiments were feasible before genetic engineering, they were not very reliable. Indeed, due to the random and imprecise nature of these older…

The EMSA - Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

The EMSA – Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

By Alex Chen | April 17, 2019

Probing Nucleic Acid-Protein Interactions with EMSA The electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) is a powerful technique for detecting specific-binding of nucleic acid-protein complexes. Over the past 30 years, EMSA has been the “go to assay” to investigate the qualitative interactions between nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) and nucleic-acid binding proteins. Through the use of radio-labeled…

Codon Optimization 101

By Alex Chen | August 23, 2017

The intriguing thing about protein expression is that the combination of transfer RNAs (tRNAs) that translate the 3 letter codon into an amino acid (aa) far exceeds the number of existing amino acids (aa). If you do the math correctly, the maximum number of unique combinations using the triplet code to code for the 4…

Using Synthetic DNA For Long Term Data Storage

By Alex Chen | July 10, 2017

The amount of data requiring long-term storage is growing and accelerating. Current long-term digital storage technology cannot keep up. Imagine roughly 2.5 QUINTILLION bytes of data being created everyday in this world1–2 as more computers and network infrastructure come online. For average users, a long-term storage solution is probably not an issue. However, organizations and…


A Primer on Checking the Methylation State of the Genome

By Alex Chen | April 4, 2017

We all know that genes encode proteins that make up a living cell. However, the level and coordination of gene expression is really the key to the success of a living cell. One way eukaryotic cells (that’s us!) control protein expression is through addition of a methyl or hydroxymethyl group on the cytosine nucleotide. This…

nanoparticle PCR

Small Particles (Things) Matter!- Introducing Nanoparticle PCR

By Alex Chen | March 2, 2017

There are many different methods and protocols on making your PCR  run more efficiently. I recently came across an interesting PCR method called “nanoparticle” PCR. This method seems to attract a lot of attention, because it enhances a PCR  by a few orders of magnitude. More interestingly, while the enhancement effect has been reported in a…

An Introduction to MassTag PCR

An Introduction to MassTag PCR

By Alex Chen | February 16, 2017

New ways to perform PCR emerge all the time. This speaks for the speed of technological advances, and reflects the ongoing need to keep up with fast-moving research. We all know that PCR’s main purpose is to amplify a stretch of nucleic acids based on sequence-specific primers. Nowadays, a wide range of PCR techniques exist,…

Image of scientists editing DNA as in CRISPR technology

CRISPR Technology Explained: Towards a CRISPR Genome!

By Alex Chen | January 25, 2017

Grab an overview of CRISPR technology from its roots as a bacterial defense system to how it can be utilized in health and research.

How AlphaLISA Works

A New Frontier in Protein Quantitation: AlphaLISA

By Alex Chen | January 17, 2017

If you ever worked in a biology or biochemistry laboratory, you probably already heard about ELISA. You may have even used it. But do you know what’s behind it? And how you can improve it? Let me guide you through the basics of ELISA, and introduce you to my favorite ELISA technique—AlphaLISA. First Things First… So,…

Hydrodynamic Focusing in Flow Cytometry

Hydrodynamic Focusing in Flow Cytometry

By Alex Chen | January 10, 2017

If you have sorted samples or phenotyped cells by surface expression of proteins, you’ve probably wondered how each cell is sorted or phenotyped in a flow cytometer? This question seems trivial, but in reality it took a while for engineers to figure it out. Before I get into today’s topic on “hydrodynamic focusing,” I’ll walk…

cytometric bead array

Multiplex Cytometric Bead Array: The ABCs of CBAs

By Alex Chen | December 13, 2016

Multi-parameter data acquisition is key to the modern era of science research. I, for one, wish every single experiment that I design would give me the maximum amount of information. For example, in cell biology and immunology, we want to capture as much information (be it cytokines/hormones/chemokines) as possible about a given cell population. Of…

Analyzing Cell Signaling with Flow Cytometry: Go with the Flow

Analyzing Cell Signaling with Flow Cytometry: Go with the Flow

By Alex Chen | October 11, 2016

Phosphorylation Equals Cell Signaling! How do cells communicate and respond to their environmental cues? This question has been on the hot list for scientists ever since the discovery of the cell. Cells use signaling cascades based on biochemical reactions to deliver or receive messages. How cool is that? The major secret of cell signaling was…

coli strain

Choosing the Right E. coli Strain for Transformation

By Alex Chen | September 29, 2016

Cloning, purifying, and expressing modified genetic material is routinely done in microbes such as Escherichia coli (E.coli). Relatives of this molecular biology workhorse normally live in the intestinal track of humans. The particular E. coli strain (K-12) that scientists use all over the world was isolated from the feces of a diphtheria patient in 1922.1…

Image of fluoresent bands of light to depict the colorfulness of fluoresence microscopy

A Biologist’s Guide to Choosing Your Fluorophore Palette

By Alex Chen | September 1, 2016

Selecting fluorophores can be a tricky business, but we’ve got you covered in this handy how-to guide.


Top 5 Tricks for Using FlowJo

By Alex Chen | August 9, 2016

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…

Solid Phase Reversible Immobilization

A Guide to Solid Phase Reversible Immobilization

By Alex Chen | July 11, 2016

  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…

nanopore sequencing

Nanopore Sequencing

By Alex Chen | July 9, 2016

A disruptive sequencing technology Every new generation, a new concept is born and can completely reshape the landscape of biomedical research. Nanopore sequencing technology, although still at its infancy, is beginning to look like a “game-changer.” It’s a revolutionary concept in sequencing in which strands of nucleic acids are fed through a tiny pore (nanopore)…

How to Quantify Integrated HIV Genomes Using Alu-gag PCR

How to Quantify Integrated HIV Genomes Using Alu-gag PCR

By Alex Chen | July 9, 2016

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.

A Simple Way to Measure T cell Killing Activity In Vivo

A Simple Way to Measure T cell Killing Activity In Vivo

By Alex Chen | July 9, 2016

Have you ever wondered what a cell’s life is like? Do they constantly communicate to each other or do they just go on their own daily business? There is an easier way and it involves super advanced molecular “crayon” technology.

Entering the Digital Age for Quantitative PCR Analysis: Digital PCR

Entering the Digital Age for Quantitative PCR Analysis: Digital PCR

By Alex Chen | July 9, 2016

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

Locating Your Cellular Apoptosis Squad: Annexin V Staining Assays

Locating Your Cellular Apoptosis Squad: Annexin V Staining Assays

By Alex Chen | July 9, 2016

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…

long range PCR

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

By Alex Chen | July 9, 2016

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…

photonic pcr

Photonic PCR: When Lightening Strikes Your DNA

By Alex Chen | July 9, 2016

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…

real-time sequencing

Single Molecule Real-Time Sequencing

By Alex Chen | July 9, 2016

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…

anchored multiplex PCR

Anchored Multiplex PCR for Next Generation Sequencing

By Alex Chen | July 9, 2016

Anchored multiplex PCR (AMP) is a powerful method for amplifying minuscule amount of nucleic acids. Combined with Next Generation sequencing, AMP just might be what you need to identify genetic mutations.

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