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Brian McWilliams

Brian completed a short post-doc at UTMB for a year after earning his Ph.D. at Baylor College of Medicine in Molecular Virology and Microbiology. He's currently working in the private sector, and is a husband, father of two, and a huge Astros fan.

Articles by Brian McWilliams:

An Exploration of the Sigmoidal Curve – Math for the Rest of Us

ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) is the heartbeat of many labs in the research world, owing to its simplicity and its ability to answer a very basic question: how much of protein/peptide/antibody is in my sample?  More specifically, it can be used to answer such questions as: How much IgG is in the serum after I…

12 Feb 2019 Protein Expression and Analysis

A Primer on Phage Display Libraries

Phage display – the process of genetically fusing antibody fragments with phage to identify binding partners to your protein of interest – was covered pretty thoroughly here over the past few months. The success of this assay predicates on creating a diverse library of up to 1012 genes coding for these antibody fragments. Despite being…

13 Jun 2017 Protein Expression and Analysis

Titering Phage – Counting Something Invisible with Something Only Slightly More Visible

Titering Phage – The Plaque Assay Phage display is a molecular technique used to isolate binding or interaction partners to molecules of interest from an extensive library. Such libraries are often derived from the variable regions of native B-cell antibody-binding genes cloned into phage DNA. A single round of phage display panning involves many important steps. However, the…

15 Mar 2017 Protein Expression and Analysis

Basic Bacterial Culturing Practices

Mastering basic bacterial culturing practices is a must if you are planning a career in microbiology! Growing bacteria might be one of the easiest things to do as a scientist. Also, as you’ve probably discovered, it’s even easier to do when you’re trying to prevent bacteria from growing where it shouldn’t be!! When we go…

09 Feb 2017 Cells and Model Organisms

Have a BLAST With Your Protein Sequences

When I was being trained in microbiology as an undergrad, one of the first skills I acquired was the ability to quickly compare and visualize amino acid sequences using BLAST and ClustalW. 15 years later, those two programs have done nothing but improve by expanding the data contained in these databases and simplifying the user…

08 Nov 2016 Protein Expression and Analysis

Stripping Blots – It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses Their Protein

Like all technical fields, molecular biology contains a very robust “theoretical” realm and an equally robust “practical” realm. Unfortunately, these two existences don’t seem to overlap as often as we’d like. Consider, for example, a simple Western blot. While an antibody interacting with its target on a membrane seems pretty straightforward, there are numerous other…

Stripping blots
25 Oct 2016 Protein Expression and Analysis

The Leap of Faith – Are You Ready for Biotech?

So let’s just say, hypothetically, that you’re defending your thesis in 2 months and it’s only recently occurred to you that “I really should figure out what I’m doing after grad school.” Or you’re a post-doc whose boss just informed you that they’re interviewing for a position 2 time zones away. Or you’re a technician…

09 Jul 2016 Career Development & Networking

Finding a Needle in a Needlestack Using Phage Display

Few things can dash your hopes quite like phages. They can annihilate whole bacteria cultures in the blink of an eye, and make your next cloning or expression project impossible. But you can harness these evil-do-ers for good. And use phages to screen massive libraries of peptides. Learn how below. The Typical “Evil” Phage Experience…

09 Jul 2016 Protein Expression and Analysis

Roadside Assistance: Fixing Your Broken-Down ELISA

The ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) is arguably one of the most important and versatile tools in the toolbox of molecular biologists, biochemists and diagnosticians across the world. Defined by its simplicity and speed, the assay is easy to learn and perform in as few as five steps. But with so few variables to manipulate, an…

16 Jun 2015 Protein Expression and Analysis
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