12th April – 15th April 2016

Introduction to Molecular Biology Techniques, Transfections and Functional Studies Workshop

One of our current PhD students, Alex Jenkins, spent last week on a training workshop organised by The Physiological Society held at University College London exploring various techniques and methods commonly used in Molecular Biology. Having started as a PhD student in October 2015, the wonderful world of Molecular Biology is all very new to Alex and is an aspect he is working and developing on with the use of internal and external training.

Alex is due to start data collection on one of his projects (CIMPRES-COPD) in June, which is looking into the effect of pulmonary rehabilitation on inflammatory markers, and this course proved to be perfect timing for Alex’s ongoing development. Especially seeing as one of the secondary outcomes for this project is to explore the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation on anti-inflammatory gene expression.

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The 4-day workshop covered the following aspects:

  • Lab safety
  • RNA extraction
  • Reverse Transcription
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Ligation & bacterial transformation
  • Restriction enzyme digestion
  • DNA mapping
  • Primer design
  • Mammalian cell transfection
  • Western blots

This workshop provided Alex with the opportunity to network with other researchers from both across the UK, and the world. Alex was paired with a laboratory partner who was a lecturer from Nepal with a keen interest in developing her knowledge and skills to support the need for laboratory facilities at her Institute. The week proved tough for both, and at times unforgiving, with some experiments proving successful and others not so successful. However, the reasoning behind these unsuccessful experiments were identified and this proved very helpful for Alex on his steep learning curve. Better to make mistakes during practice than during a research experiment!

Alex will not be likely to use all of the taught techniques within this workshop, however, he found this experience and gathering knowledge of these techniques particularly useful in terms of shaping his future research ideas beyond his PhD.

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Alex thoroughly enjoyed the intensive week and would like to thank the Physiological Society for sponsoring the training workshop to make it free of charge for attendees. Thanks must also go to the demonstrators; Vanessa Lowe, Ian Evans, Alessandro Fantin, Caroline Matute & Elodie Peyric who were all absolutely fantastic throughout the workshop proving very helpful whilst creating a very enjoyable and relaxed laboratory atmosphere. Alex recommends this course to anyone wishing to further understand Molecular Biology with future courses posted on The Physiological Society website.

Going forward, Alex is hoping to undertake another training workshop held at University College London focussing on quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR).