Blogger Template by Blogcrowds

What's with my brain?

Life of a scientist can be fun, hilarious and eccentric besides just maddening. With research it is always the craziest of ideas that make the best papers, nonsense thoughts that stumble into stunning discoveries and poor jokes with a scientific temperament that give the scientist his identity.

It is common in a lab to interact with co-scientists to sneak into their ideas not to have them mask our own but to occupy our leisure with "entertaining" science thoughts. On such occasions, it is not quite unusual to use transferred epithets like, "your DNA sample", "my gel", etc. so much that it goes unnoticed even if we said "my pups are being delivered today!" Well for the non-scientists, it just means that I have bred some mice for research and they have borne babies today. I personally dislike this idea of owning biological samples "strictly meant for research purposes" as it doesnt sound too good to state in public that "my kidney cells dont grow" (they are the HEK 293T cells, a cell line developed from an embryonic kidney...well, somebody's kidney, not mine!) or "her blots are so blobby and not good for publication" (to describe the result from a Western Blot, a technique that's used in protein expression analysis). Such a possessiveness, however, is not dispensable when it concerns my colleagues. Not forgetting to mention that English is not the language that they are conversant with.

Thursdays are meant for primary culture when I, the 'responsible' person, gently, swiftly and sympathetically sacrifice new born mice to get out their cerebral hemispheres (something to do with the brain) to subsequently grow brain cells on a plate. It is not an easy job though not really nasty. P0 pups (new born) as we call them, are tiny, one-third the size of our little finger and calm and less agile than the bigger mates. It took me quite a few tries before I got the art of uprooting the intact cerebrum. The procedure doesn't stop there. I then carefully pull out the meninges (a thin layer covering the cortex) again making sure I do not disturb the gross morphology of the structure under the microscope and finally drop the clear cerebral hemispheres into a new petri dish with..whatever.. media. I have performed this dissection less than a dozen times now, so I still call myself an amateur in mouse work.

My turn this week came yesterday. Half past one, 6 pups, all game and I started the work. The usual. Cut off the head, hold the snout with big forceps, cut open the skull, pinch off the cerebral hemispheres with fine forceps, under the micrscope, clear the meninges, drop the hemispheres in whatever media. 3 pups and as always, I never got the hemispheres intact. They were either dislodged from each other or disfigured or even slurried. The fourth head. Splendid. Even after all the processing from above, I realized that this one looked amazing. A blind man (provided he is a biologist) could identify this structure under the microscope as belonging to some region of the head. Exemplary! I was so ecstatic with the production of my masterpiece held between a pair of forceps when somebody slammed the door of our tissue culture room. It was one of those non-English speaking colleagues. I know not for what reason she was here but the moment she entered she was all screaming..."Oh my God! Look what you have done!" Apparently I was so confounded with her entry that I had no clue what has been happening all along with my masterpiece. And she exclaimed, "Your brain is on the floor!"

Well. Not quite.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home