Title Photo Strip

Title Photo Strip

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Boy, Do I have a story for You!...

A "Sequence" of Events
Story by: Aileen Nolan

When you have finished your PCRs and checked it with a gel, you are finally ready to analyze on the 3730. A warm fuzzy feeling arises as you finish analyzing and take out that nifty flash drive carrying all the information, a result of all your tedious lab work. You try to hide your smile with your sleeve, as you know that you might hold information that can break your research project wide open. So you take that pretty pink flash drive, you plug it into the computer specifically for the “GeneMapper” program, and finally wait for the peaks on your microsatellite to show. Your eyes scan each chart for the important peaks of the LIZ500 at 139, 150, and 160. Like an ocean wave finally crashing to the sand floor, relief breaks across your face when you see the GeneMapper program correctly measured the peaks.

Next, you begin the laborious work of recording the allele locations. One by one, you record the number on the chart corresponding with the highest peaks... Yes it’s boring, but you know that it will all be worth it when you finally decipher the data. You go dye by dye-- each dye corresponding to a different locus that was analyzed- you record the necessary information. On to the next dye, you continue your records until you notice that many of your samples have no peaks-more than half ….

Well, that’s fine, you reassure yourself. On to the next dye and locus. You go about recording the peaks as usual, but wait, there are none! No peaks at all! Next sample, none again. Next…. none, nada, zilch. Your brows furrow and unnaturally deep wrinkles start forming atop your forehead. That look of calm across your face soon turns into one resembling the look you give when you’ve realized that you’ll never know if Leonardo DiCaprio is actually insane at the end of Shutter Island. All that hard work, capping the strip tubes, aliquoting DNA, running the thermocycler…… all of that needs to be redone.

Finally, you sigh, accept defeat, and trudge onward. Tomorrow will be a new day, and you will sequence yet again in hopes that the machine that costs a quarter million dollars will actually work….. (I kid, I kid).

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