Olwen Reina

I am a Clinical Research Coordinator at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with a background in basic research, writing, mentoring and teaching. I studied Natural Science at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, specializing in biochemistry with immunology and I am currently undergoing ACRP (Association of Clinical Research Professionals) certification. In my spare time, I enjoy studying HTML/CSS and SEO, doing acroyoga, making kombucha, salsa dancing, voluntary community projects and eating sushi. Feel free to send me a note with any writing opportunities or to say hello.

Articles by Olwen Reina:

14 Pipetting Hacks to Become an Instant Expert

After a long day, you finally push back your chair, hang up your lab coat and take a well-deserved stretch. Time to go home! Your hand is aching, your thumb is quivering and your shoulder feels like it just ran a marathon. Another day in the lab, another day spent pipetting. Some say it takes…

14 Apr 2017 Equipment Mastery & Hacks

Making the Most of Quiet Days in the Lab: From Gloomy to Glorious

It’s Monday morning. You arrive in the lab armed with a large coffee and feeling rested after a non-lab weekend. You check your email and calendar and peek into your PI’s office. Today will be a rare non-experimental day, a day that some love and others dread: a day to clean up and get ready…

29 Nov 2016 Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

SAGE Part 2: LongSAGE, RL-SAGE and SuperSAGE

SAGE, or serial analysis of gene expression, is a technique that enables you to digitally analyze the entire gene expression profile of a cell(s). Before this technique, scientists were limited to studying a few gene’s expression at once by a technique called the expressed sequence tag approach. The coolest part of SAGE is you don’t…

22 Sep 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Vital for Soup, Vital for Labs: Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE), part 1

Some techniques can sound very dry but this isn’t one of them! SAGE was first described and published by Velculescu et al. in 1995. At the time, techniques like RNA blotting and expressed sequence tagging were used to study gene expression. However techniques like these were slow and very limited. The speed of SAGE and…

20 Sep 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

The Nope-Nope-Nevers of Using a Flow Cytometer

There are some wonderful toys in the lab that enable us to open up a whole new world in science. One of those is a rather pricey and an incredibly sensitive laser-based apparatus capable of counting and sorting cells, detecting biomarkers, and engineering proteins: the flow cytometer. By propelling cells through the path of the…

09 Jul 2016 Flow Cytometry

Origami in Nature: Protein Structure Prediction

Predicting how proteins will fold in vivo is a Holy Grail of proteomics and theoretical chemistry. Current hopes are that this can be achieved by designing an in silico platform that can predict protein folding, either de novo (a.k.a. from scratch) or using known proteins as a guide. What would we need to do, why…

09 Jul 2016 Protein Expression & Analysis

When PCR Gets RACE-y: From Unknown mRNA Segments to Sequenced cDNA

Normally you need two primers to amplify your segment of interest – one for the 3′ end of your segment of interest and one for your 5′ end. But if you don’t know the sequence of the regions you’re hoping to amplify this can be a problem! Rapid Amplification of cDNA Ends (RACE) is a…

09 Jul 2016 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

3 Carcinoma Cells, 2 Stromal Cells and a Partridge in a Pear Tree: An Introduction to Cell Co-Culture

The first thing you learn about culturing cells is proper aseptic technique and avoiding contamination. After that you’ll learn all the ins and outs of culturing your project’s specific cell line(s). What may not have been covered, is co-culturing, and I don’t just mean ethnic diversity in the lab! Co-culturing is the indirect or direct…

09 Jul 2016 Cells and Model Organisms

Top 10 Tips for Phenol-Chloroform Extractions and Ethanol Precipitations

Phenol-chloroform extractions and ethanol precipitations can be a royal pain, but here are some tips to help you get tip-top results!

09 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

My job as a Clinical Study Coordinator

Clinical Trial Coordinator, Clinical Study Coordinator, and Clinical Research Coordinator are all names for the same job and refer to the person responsible for the day-to-day running of human trials. Usually when I tell someone that I’m a Clinical Study Coordinator, they have no idea what that means. I guess it’s like when someone tells…

09 Jul 2016 Career Development & Networking

Time to Instigate Nested PCR

How to Obtain a Purer PCR Product and Reduce Non-specific Amplification Unless you’ve gotten your hands on some miraculously specific primers, amplification of only your target sequence without non-specific amplification can be very challenging. Thankfully, a clever and surprisingly simple solution is at hand! A Quick Recap of the Basics In PCR, you design your…

09 Jul 2016 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

Comparing Viral Vector Expression Systems

Some viral vectors are the little black dresses of cloning and expression experiments: They work for almost any occasion and always give you the results you were hoping for. Other vectors are more like ballgowns that only come out of storage for special occasions. Let’s wade through all the information out there and take a…

09 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Native Versus Denaturing Gels

We’re already gone through the basics of how gel electrophoresis work, compared common gel types like agarose and polyacrylamide and even explored some alternatives. Now let’s look at the native versus denaturing gels. You’ll be a speGEList in no time! Denaturing Gels We’ll start with this one, as it’s very self-explanatory. Denaturing gels are exactly…

09 Jul 2016 Protein Expression & Analysis

The BOOM Method for Nucleic Acid Purification: The Ultimate Chick Flick?

The Boom method, or Boom nucleic acid extraction method, is a solid phase extraction technique for isolating nucleic acids from a solution of biological matter. This is just a fancy way of saying you use this technique to expose and remove the nucleic acids from a cell. First developed by William R. Boom, the Boom…

09 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Protein Extraction and Solubilization using the TRIZOL® Method

Extracting protein from tissue samples and cultured cells is Step #1 in many biochemical and analytical techniques. Before you can do a Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis (PAGE), a Western blot, or mass spectrometry you need to extract your protein. Nowadays, a lot of labs have switched to kits for their protein extraction but these kits can…

09 Jul 2016 Protein Expression & Analysis

Expanding Possibilities: Why You Need to Look into Viral Transduction

We have already looked into the different types of viral expression systems and when you might use one over another in my previous article. But why would you use viral transduction over similar techniques like plasmids? Just a reminder: Transfection is a lab technique where nucleic acids or proteins may be introduced into cells. When…

09 Jul 2016 Cells and Model Organisms

How to Clean and Maintain Scales

Spring time means spring cleaning! Baby birds are hatching, the days are getting longer, there are butterflies everywhere and you feel inspired to do a good deep clean of your lab scales. We can’t help you sing like Snow White so that animals come help you clean but we can help you get your scales…

22 Jun 2015 Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

Get To Know Your DNA Polymerases

While most may think standard Taq is the backbone of PCR, there are many other DNA polymerase options out there. The polymerase you use has a significant impact on the efficacy of your PCR, specifically on the product yield, the purity of the product and the faithfulness with which the starting product is transcribed. Sometimes,…

18 Jun 2015 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

Fuzzy Wuzzy Problems: Achieving and Maintaining a Contamination-free Incubator

When you share an incubator with a number of people it can be very hard to keep a clean shop and months, or more, of work can be lost due to contamination. The two biggest sources of bugs in an incubator are: the water pan the containers being put in and out. Both of these…

17 Jun 2015 Cells and Model Organisms

Problems amplifying GC-rich regions? Problem Solved!

No, it isn’t you that’s the problem, and you’re certainly not alone if you’re having trouble amplifying GC-rich sequence and/or understanding why GC-rich sequences are causing such problems in the first place! Amplification of GC-rich sequences by PCR has been an irritant for scientists for decades! When we say “GC-rich” we mean ?60% of the…

26 May 2015 Lab Statistics & Math