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Vicki Doronina

Vicki did her PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Edinburgh. She had been working as a postdoc in several Russel group UK universities, while honing her skills in scientific and creative writing. She is now a pen for hire. Check out my proudest achievement, which may be useful for you: The BiteSizeBio Guide for Protein expression

Articles by Vicki Doronina:

Should You Switch from Wet to Dried Blood Samples?

A Spot of History Most of the biomedical methods used started as a curiosity. Then the one-off gains a limited use, the technology then progresses until its use becomes widespread. Just think about the arch from the curious polished glass spheres, used by Antony Levnhook to look at animalcules, to modern microscopes. The same story…

13 Dec 2019 Analytical Chemistry and Chromatography Techniques

How to Set up Your Elution Experiment

What do DNA mini preps and protein immunoprecipitation experiments have in common? They start differently, but they end with the same, critical stage – elution. But what exactly is elution, and what is the point? The Terminology First, let’s start with some basic terminology: Elution – extracting one material from another by washing with a…

15 Oct 2019 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

A Bug Ate My Experiment, Part 2

In the first article of this series, I introduced microscopic parasites that infect greenhouse plants.  Initially, my goal for Part 2 was to list all the main types of infestations, but I quickly realized to do so would result in a textbook. Thus, this article will be about the most familiar and easy to identify…

08 Oct 2019 Cells and Model Organisms

An Invisible Bug Ate My Experiment: What to Do about Greenhouse Infestation

In theory, the greenhouse is a controlled laboratory environment where only the organisms you’ve introduced live. But in practice, just as other laboratory environments suffer from ‘unwelcomed guests’ (e.g. contamination and infestation), greenhouses are not always as sterile as you would like. To avoid any experimental issues, you have to be vigilant about these pesky…

30 Jul 2019 Cells and Model Organisms

Isolating Bacterial RNA from Blood

For many decades, the only way to detect sepsis – bacterial growth in blood – was isolating the bacteria and growing bacterial colonies on a special medium. This was done by first spinning down the blood, which brought the blood cells and bacteria into the pellet. The pellet was spread on a blood agar plate…

08 Apr 2019 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

The Beginner’s Guide to Reading Plasmid Maps

Very often plasmid maps, especially historical ones that are hand-drawn by a long-forgotten PhD student, are a puzzle. What are these arrows and boxes? Where do I start? Don’t worry, we have a crash course introduction into deciphering plasmid maps. Familiarizing Yourself with Your Plasmid of Interest Let’s start with a classic plasmid: pBR3221. It…

11 Mar 2019 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Greenhouse Maintenance: Keeping Your (Green) Laboratory Clean

Cleaning the lab is one of the hardest jobs because it’s dull and repetitive. However, nobody in their sound scientific mind would argue that this can be avoided. Dust accumulates bugs, bacteriophages, and RNAses that can stray into your experiment and ruin it. Old boxes piling up is a fire hazard. Anybody who refuses to…

07 Mar 2019 Cells and Model Organisms

The Rites of Passage: Subculturing Microorganisms

Anyone who has worked with microorganisms, be it bacteria or yeast, is familiar with subculturing – the act of transferring some cells from a previous culture to a fresh growth medium. You do it either to reset the growth phase of your culture or to increase the biomass for downstream experiments. But there’s more to…

14 Feb 2019 Cells and Model Organisms

RNAseq Library Preparation: From Cells to cDNA

RNAseq libraries, also called whole transcriptome shotgun sequencing libraries, provide a snapshot of cellular processes. This allows the researcher to gain information regarding changes in transcriptome in response to environmental changes, during disease, or after a drug application. RNAseq libraries also allow for the detection of mRNA splicing variants and SNPs. RNAseq libraries have virtually…

11 Feb 2019 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Laser in a droplet

When you hear about a laser, you likely imagine a medium-size apparatus with a light beam coming out of it, not a bacterium in a drop of liquid. Well, Turkish and British scientists went beyond ordinary imagination – they expressed a fluorescent protein in E.coli and suspended live bacteria in droplets. Illuminated droplets served as…

31 Jan 2019 Microscopy and Imaging

To Sonicator and Beyond – Large Cell Volume Lysis Methods

At some point you have to leave small-scale cell lysis and move to large culture volumes for experiments currently in vogue, be it microarrays, total RNA libraries, or large-scale pull-downs for interactome or metabolome analysis. And at this point, you have to change your lysis method from an on-the-bench in eppendorfs to one capable of…

29 Jan 2019 Basic Lab Skills and Know-how

Breaking the Wall: How to Make Protoplasts

Non-mammalian cells, including bacteria, fungi, and plant cells, have a cell wall that maintains the shape of the cell. These cell walls are particularly strong, due to their composition as they contain polymers that create a rigid sphere around the vulnerable cytoplasm contained inside the plasma membrane. In bacteria, the cell wall includes several layers…

15 Jan 2019 Cells and Model Organisms

4 Important Considerations for Your Cell Lysis

You’ve cultured your cells and completed your treatments, now it’s time to harvest them and proceed to the downstream effects. Cell lysis is the crucial stage that determines if your experiment has a chance of producing the data that you have been waiting for. Part of the starting biological material is inevitably lost on each…

11 Jun 2018 Cells and Model Organisms&DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Fishing for Kinases with Multiplex Inhibitor Bead Assays

There is something about kinases that resemble ghosts. Their effects reveal their presence, but they can be difficult to catch. With a low abundance of hundreds or even tens of molecules per cell, they are difficult to detect using conventional methods such as Western blotting or mass spectrometry (MS). However, you will need to detect…

18 May 2018 Protein Expression and Analysis

Top Five Methods for Primary Antibody Labeling

In any application that uses antibodies for signal detection (e.g., Western blotting, ELISA, immunohistochemistry, or FACS), there are two approaches to antibody labeling: direct and indirect labeling. Standard Western blotting uses indirect labeling because you use a primary antibody to detect the target antigen, followed by a secondary antibody to which a detection molecule is…

04 May 2018 Protein Expression and Analysis

Nil by Mouth: Evolution from the Glass Pipette to the Robot

If you compare a biologist with a cook and the lab with the kitchen, the pipette will be analogous to the most important cooking tool – the knife. But while the knife’s design has remained more or less the same since man moved from stone to metal some five to twelve thousand years ago, laboratory…

14 Mar 2018 Soft Skills and Tools

Why Isn’t My Culture Growing? The S-Curve Explained

Whether you work with human cell lines or microbes, their growth is governed by the same principles. I invite you to learn about something that lies at the base of any work with cell culture, whether cells have circular or linear chromosomes: the S-curve of the population growth. The length of each phase depends on…

07 Dec 2017 Cells and Model Organisms

Flashing Red Signs During a Job Interview

In all the stress of having a job interview, it’s easy to forget that it takes more than one to tango. In fact, a job interview is like a new flat mate interview. While your prospective boss and colleagues are interviewing you and assessing your fit for the lab, you should also keep your eyes…

23 Aug 2017 Personal Development&Survive and Thrive

The Sandwich Technique: How to Dish Out Critique

How time flies. One day you are giving your first presentation in front of your fellow students, seemingly the next you are listening to a presentation by your own student. And frankly, the talk is awful. It’s twice the time limit, the student weaves around the topic as a drunken sailor, and she acknowledges her…

19 Jul 2017 Dealing with Fellow Scientists

Top 5 of the most commonly used cell lines!

Cell lines are an invaluable scientific tool. They allow us to dissect the internal workings of tissues in a controlled environment without the ethical implications of working with whole organisms. Starting with the first successful immortal cell line HeLa, the number of available cell lines has since diversified into a plethora of options. Just like model…