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Suzanne Kennedy

Suzanne is Director of R&D at Mo Bio Laboratories in California, and the author of their blog, The Culture Dish. She has a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Articles by Suzanne Kennedy:

There’s No Need To Be Paranoid About RNA Purification

RNA purification may be a common procedure in molecular biology but it is by far the one that people fear most. Why? Dreaded RNase. It’s everywhere… all over your bench and pipettes, and floating in the air, waiting for the chance to creep into your prep, shred your RNA into nucleotides, and ruin a day’s…

09 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis&Opentrons

No More White Elephants! – Consider this Before Buying a Real-time PCR Cycler

Does your lab have a closet full of white elephants; once expensive instruments that are no longer fit for purpose, or have broken down? In many cases, all of that wasted money and resource could have been saved if the buyers had made smart choices about matching the instrument more closely to their needs. A…

09 Jul 2016 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

The Key to Unlocking DNA from FFPE Tissues

Formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissues are valuable samples that typically come from human specimens collected for examination of the histology of biopsies for the detection of cancer. But each sample contains much more information just waiting to be unlocked. Despite the tiny sample size, DNA can be extracted from the tissue sections and used…

09 Jul 2016 Microscopy and Imaging

10 Tips for Better DNA Gel Extraction Results

Anyone who has worked in a molecular biology lab knows that DNA gel extraction can be surprisingly challenging. Why is this? Is it because of poor product yields, or maybe it’s because the gel extraction process uses harsh chemicals and conditions (e.g., chaotropic salts, ethidium bromide, ethanol, heat) that will damage or denature DNA and potentially decrease…

09 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

How DNA Extraction Kits Work in the Lab

We give a lot of troubleshooting help on RNA and DNA extraction here at Bitesize Bio because almost everything we do in molecular biology requires DNA or RNA at the very first step.  These days, most labs use commercial DNA extraction kits, which employ spin columns, for the isolation of DNA and RNA. The spin columns…

28 Jul 2015 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis&New England Biolabs

5 Types of Bad Boss and How to Handle Them

Science attracts so many different and quirky personalities that you are bound to have a problem with some people. But when your boss is the problem, its a big problem for you. So what do you do when you don’t get along with your boss? Well sometimes the best advice is really to just move…

10 Dec 2014 Dealing with Fellow Scientists

Plasmid vs. Genomic DNA Extraction: The Difference

To isolate plasmid DNA, you crack your cells open and perform a miniprep, trying hard to avoid contaminating genomic DNA. For genomic DNA, you crack your cells open in a different way and try to isolate as much of the contents as possible. So what’s the difference in the protocols? In this article, we will…

08 Oct 2014 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis&Opentrons

Better Plasmid Midipreps Part II: What Causes Low Yields?

Recently we received a question from Bitesize Bio reader Sonia after our article How to: Get Better Plasmid Midiprep Yields. She asked: “What could be the problem when one sample gives a good yield while the other plasmid gives poor a one, when both the samples were processed simultaneously, and in the same way.” This is a…

12 May 2014 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

When Glycogen is not Your Friend – Isolating RNA from Glycogen-Rich Tissues

Bitesize Bio has had a lot to say about RNA isolation, mainly because it is one of the most anxiety-producing requirements for molecular biology; especially when you are first starting out (although isolating proteins from complex samples like soil and stool is far more difficult, let me tell you.  But that’s a future post.)  We’ve…

16 Apr 2014 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Troubleshooting RNA Isolation

As widely used as it is, isolating RNA remains one of the more finicky protocols. Just about anyone who has performed the technique has their own personal tips and tricks to successfully isolate intact RNA from their samples with consistency. Although RNA can be somewhat unpredictable since it is so labile, there are a few…

19 Mar 2014 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis&Opentrons

10 Signs You’ll Like Working in Biotech

The decision to make the switch from an academic lab and career to a biotech company doesn’t come easy. Many scientists are wary of the lack of independence and doing science for profit.  But there are advantages too. Working in a biotech lab allows you to work on many varied and interesting projects that actually come to…

11 Aug 2010 Career Development & Networking

Important Considerations for a Career in Biotech

When I was in graduate school, it seemed that almost no one aspired to work in industry or be part of a company. But times are changing. Now, when I go to conferences and talk to scientists in training, I am asked, “how do I get a job in a company?” and “How did you get…

29 Jul 2010 Career Development & Networking

What it Takes to Take the Lead

I had the unique opportunity to attend a lecture by the CEO of Life Technologies, Greg Lucier, just recently here in San Diego. The lecture was organized by Leo Lee, the creator of a new group on Linkedin.com called Leadership Builder and the title of the presentation was “Developing Executive Leadership: What it Takes to…

06 Jul 2010 Personal Development

How DNA extraction kits work in the lab

At Bitesize Bio, we share a lot of troubleshooting tips for RNA and genomic DNA extraction because almost everything we do in molecular biology requires nucleic acid isolation as the very first step. These days, most labs use commercial DNA extraction kits based on spin column technology. Spin columns contain a silica resin that selectively…

28 Jun 2010 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Kids Read Science Summer Reading Contest 2010

Joanne Manaster is a woman on a mission. She loves science and she wants to introduce kids to everything there is to love about science. So this summer, her mission is to stimulate the minds of children and teens everywhere by challenging them to read non-fiction science books. In collaboration with Jeff Shaumeyer, program director of  www.scienticity.net, she has organized a…

09 Jun 2010 Fun Stuff

MIQE Guidelines: Do Your RT-qPCRs Make The Grade?

Northern and Southern blotting are now a thing of the past. They’ve been replaced with a faster and more quantitative technique. No longer do we wait days to know whether a gene is expressed. We can have the answer in 45 minutes! Real-time PCR is now commonly employed in almost all molecular biology laboratories to…

04 Jun 2010 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

Do Hand Sanitizer and Liquid Hand Soap Remove Viruses?

While reading my back issues of Applied and Environmental Microbiology (AEM), I came across an interesting paper that detailed an in-depth study on the effectiveness of hand cleaners to remove Norwalk virus (NV) from intentionally contaminated hands. Yes that’s right – intentionally contaminated, and how. The study volunteers allowed a 20% stool suspension containing Norwalk virus to be…

26 May 2010 Lab Safety

Important Considerations for Determining qPCR Efficiency

One of the very first things you need to do when getting set up for quantitative PCR (qPCR) is to determine the efficiency of the assay because knowing the assay efficiency is critical to accurate data interpretation. And you have to do this every time you design and purchase a new primer pair. Ideally, the…

19 Apr 2010 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

When Your Partner is NOT a scientist

A recent  article published by The Scientist called Power Couples gave advice and examples for scientist couples who have successfully balanced their life at home and in the lab.  It was interesting from the perspective of how two very busy and career motivated people work together to have it all: raise a family, run a lab, and stay in love…

24 Mar 2010 Personal Development

Tech Clinic #5: Copy Number Determination for Plasmid Standard Curves

We received the following question from Bitesize Bio reader, Beheroze Sattha. It relates to a problem with absolute quantification using plasmids for standard curves. Since many people use this technique it is an interesting one question for us to explore, and it also gives us a great opportunity to cover some important tips for performing…

10 Mar 2010 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

A role for cannabinoids in slowing down HIV

We all are very familiar with the effects of cannabinoid receptor stimulation on the body. Relaxation, pain relief, and increased appetite probably come first to mind. These psychoactive effects result from activation of  the CB1 receptor found on cells in the brain by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). But there is another receptor, called CB2, that can bind THC and other…

01 Mar 2010 Of Interest

Is Peer Review Broken?

This past week I found myself asking this question quite a few times. What is going on with the peer review process? Is anyone actually reviewing the papers getting into journals anymore? This is due to some recent experiences I’ve had with papers published in both the larger highly reputable journals and smaller niche journals…

23 Feb 2010 Taming the Literature

Yonder Biology: Bringing Science to “Mom and Dad”

Who is Andy Bass? Answer: A surfing scientist turned businessman from Alabama with a passion for educating the world about molecular biology. Andy is the CEO and founder of Yonder Biology, a brand new biotech company located in northern San Diego county here in California. I had a chance to speak with Andy about his new venture…

01 Feb 2010 Fun Stuff

RTFP (Read the F*****g Paper)

When I worked in technical service for a well known biotech company, I have to confess that we often used a certain phrase in the frustration of dealing with calls from angry scientists ranting about a problem they were having with a kit because, as it turned out, they didn’t read the manual. “Read the F***ing…

18 Jan 2010 Taming the Literature

Scientists. Do You Believe in God?

Perhaps at no other time of year like the winter solstice is the mixture of religious beliefs and daily life more intertwined.  Most people, regardless of race and country of origin, come from a faith that believes in God or a Higher Power. As scientists, it is a widely held belief that we do not…

21 Dec 2009 Inspiring and Thought Provoking

Gift Ideas For The Scientist In Your Life This Christmas

It’s that time of year again. The time when you have to fit in buying holiday gifts among the hundred other things you need to do at work and at home. Coming up with cool ideas or the “perfect gift” is a challenge for busy people with too much on their plate already. To help…

03 Dec 2009 Fun Stuff

The Microbiology of Food

The fourth Thursday of November marks the annual tradition in the U.S. called Thanksgiving. Originally, Thanksgiving was a religious holiday that has sinced turned secular and became a national holiday in 1941. Now, for families celebrating Thanskgiving, it is a time to cook a whole lot of food and eat way too much pumpkin pie.…

25 Nov 2009 Fun Stuff

Be The Golden Child In Your Lab

In a previous article, I listed some ways that people annoy their co-workers and many of you added some of your own pet peeves. Now I would like to discuss some ways to be the lab favorite, also known as the “golden child”. Does your lab have a “golden child”? Someone who is always perfect,…

09 Nov 2009 Dealing with Fellow Scientists

The Perfect Learning Tool for Science: Video

I don’t need to tell you that you can find (virtually) everything you need to know on the internet — encylopedias are a thing of the past. Now, you have an app for that on your phone. You don’t even need to wait to get home. So it makes total sense that for science, we…

05 Nov 2009 Writing, Publishing and Presenting

10 Ways to Piss Off Your Co-Workers

Every day you go into the lab and you spend the 8-14 hours with the same group of people. And when you spend that much time with people, bench to bench, for anywhere from 3-6 years, you really need to learn how to get along. Usually, after some time, most people learn the rules of…

16 Oct 2009 Dealing with Fellow Scientists

Better Than Betaine: PCR Additives That Actually Work

If you’re like many researchers, problems with PCR amplifying high GC DNA templates will be a major annoyance for you.  Many strategies developed to overcome this issue. Betaine is the most common PCR additive used to enhance amplification of GC rich sequences because of its ability to dissolve secondary structure that blocks polymerase action.  But…

30 Sep 2009 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

Read This Before You Design Those qPCR Primers

qPCR is a technique used daily in most labs, but the first step, designing your primers, can be the biggest obstacle to even getting started. Without a good pair of primers, you can’t start asking the real questions and generating data.  And sometimes the effort involved in optimizing an assay for high efficiency and sensitivity can be…

21 Sep 2009 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

The Role of the FDA in Molecular Diagnostics

When was the last time you had to give blood or a swab sample for a test, such as for a cold or flu, or some other virus? Have you ever wondered about the accuracy of the test results? If the test is FDA approved, then you can rest easy knowing that the test went…

08 Sep 2009 Of Interest

The Amazing Race: Pathogen Detection and Quantification

Each winter, the flu season peaks in January as new strains of virus emerge and spread among school age children, elderly and immunocompromised members of the population. Diagnosis of flu, and other infectious diseases, puts serious strain on public health labs.  But the intense pressure to handle more samples faster is driving development of new innovative…

25 Aug 2009 Inspiring and Thought Provoking

It’s Like Getting RNA From a Blood Sample

So you have some blood stored in the -20C or -80C and you want to isolate RNA from the samples. If you wanted DNA, you would have many products to choose from. But for RNA, your choices are more limited. Obtaining RNA From Frozen Blood is Difficult Why is that?  The reason is that most RNA from…

04 Aug 2009 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Pointers for New Graduate Students

If you ask any finished graduate student, most of us starting a Masters or PhD program were very excited at what awaited us and if you were anything like me, you were foolishly idealistic and thought you were going to pull on a lab coat, cure cancer and save the world. Ok, maybe most people…

29 Jul 2009 PhD Survival

Tech Clinic #3: DNA digestion, precipitation and clean-up

Thanks to Bitesize Bio reader, Muthu Arumugam for contacting us about some problems he has been having with restriction digestion and clean up of DNA. I have boiled his query down to four main questions that are pertinent for most molecular biologists, so I hope that Muthu and everyone else can learn something from my…

15 Jul 2009 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Reality TV for Scientists

It seems there is a reality TV show for virtually every type of person or profession. From Alaska king crab fishermen to surviving the outdoors to living the life of a privileged housewife, you name it and there is a show about it. So why not a show on the challenges and antics of people…

10 Jul 2009 Fun Stuff

Tech Clinic #2: Gel Extraction – Avoid/Rescue a Bad 260/230 Ratio

Gel extraction — what could be easier? Now we have quick and easy gel extraction kits, we no longer need to use time consuming old fashioned methods like electro-elution or “freeze and squeeze”. Thank goodness. When Gel Extraction Goes Wrong But even the simplest of procedures can go wrong. Maybe you were distracted, confused or…

01 Jul 2009 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Six Important Factors for Successful Reverse Transcription

The reverse transcription (RT) step of RT-PCR for converting RNA to cDNA is critical for accuracy in quantification and for finding low copy messages. Thus, you want to make sure that this step is performed with the highest efficiency but without having to optimize every single step. To help you further in optimizing the RT…

22 Jun 2009 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis&Opentrons

Tech Clinic #1: Removing Unwanted DNA from Vectors — beat Murphy’s Law.

Whether cloning is your everyday work, or you just dabble, you are bound to meet the situation where you need to remove a stretch of unwanted DNA from your vector, e.g. to remove unwanted sequences or make an insertion. If you are lucky, two rare-cutter restriction sites will neatly flank the piece you want to…

08 Jun 2009 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

(Being) Exposed: The Secret Life of Dirt

Many of my current research projects are focused on the dirt that makes the world go round. No, not the kind that a paparazzi photographer or gossip columnist would be interested in. I am talking about soil. And I am particularly interested in the microbial communities living in soil. Why Many Soil Microorganisms are Undiscovered…

01 Jun 2009 Genomics and Epigenetics&MilliporeSigma GENM

Fast, Accurate and Green PCR

Attending the 2009 American Society of Microbiology meeting this week in Philadelphia, I decided to take my own advice and visit the exhibits to see whether any of the exhibiting companies had any really innovative and unique products on display. I focused mainly on products I might use in my own lab, such as PCR…

27 May 2009 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

Write Better. Right Here.

Are you looking for a way to… … expand your professional skill-set? … increase your professional marketability? … expand your creativity? Well let me recommend writing. And not just any old writing; writing for a creative and popular website… BitesizeBio.com. Writing is an essential skill for any scientist and Bitesize Bio is the perfect forum…

15 May 2009 Writing, Publishing and Presenting

Don’t Forget to Visit the Exhibits!

Attending conferences is critical for your research.  It is a great way to reinvigorate your enthusiasm and inspire  new ideas, as well as see old friends and make new ones. But it is also a valuable opportunity to visit many of your favorite companies. For some scientists the value is in collecting pens and free…

08 May 2009 Career Development & Networking

A New Use for Acupuncture in qPCR

What do you get when you cross eastern medicine with molecular biology? How about a novel way to isolate mRNA from living cells using acupuncture? That’s just one of many projects going on in Dr. Karl Hasenstein’s lab at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. Original research performed by Dr. Hasenstein’s lab and presented at the CHI…

28 Apr 2009 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

Read Papers? I’d Rather Watch a Video.

As a scientist in academia or industry, you spend a large portion of your time looking up and reading research papers. What if instead of printing out piles of papers and taking them home to read all weekend, you could click on a video and visualize the experiments and results by the actual researchers doing…

17 Feb 2009 Writing, Publishing and Presenting

Are You Armored?

Are you tired of having to clean dingy, moldy waterbaths? Or tired of babysitting the heat block to make sure the temperature stayed where you set it? Well there is a new solution to this problem. I just recently discovered something called Bath Armor by a company called Lab Armor. I was walking by my…

12 Feb 2009 Of Interest

Networking with LinkedIn and LabRoots

You may have seen some of the different websites around for networking. I’m not talking about Facebook or Myspace, which are for social networking. Facebook and Myspace are great for keeping up with friends and sharing more personal details about your non-work life. For scientific networking, you want to be able to connect with people…

02 Dec 2008 Career Development & Networking

7 Ingredients for a Successful Job Application

In my current position, I had the opportunity to hire a new R&D scientist to join the team. I was excited at being able to build my team and take my time to find the perfect fit for our company. My experience in the process of hiring gave me a new perspective on all the…

11 Nov 2008 Career Development & Networking

Alternative Careers For Scientists

What happens when you finally get the degree you worked so long for and then realize you really don’t want to spend the rest of your life in the lab? Or if you get tired of working long hours with few results and low pay or you succumb to any of the other reasons that…

03 Jan 2008 Career Development & Networking

Newborn Screening. Saving Lives the Molecular Way

As a product manager, one of my responsibilities is to exhibit at various scientific conferences to promote and advertise products for genomic DNA extraction. Less than three months into the job, I attended the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) conference to promote a new product we had just launched for DNA extraction from blood…

26 Nov 2007 Of Interest

Choosing a Post Doc Position

After all that hard work, you finally have your PhD. Now what? If your career choice is academic research, your first post-doc position beckons. The choice of where, and with whom, to take up a post-doc position is a very important one as it is at the post-doc stage where publications are required to move…

15 Nov 2007 Career Development & Networking

Spare a Thought for Tech Support Reps

Have you ever called technical service departments for advice and help in troubleshooting or choosing a product? Depending on the reason for the call, the experience can vary from positive and helpful all the way to torture for both people. Working in technical service can feel like a very unrewarding job as you are handling…

05 Nov 2007 Fun Stuff
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