• Question: What kind of experiments do you do / have you done?

    Asked by niall125 to David, Shonna, Shobhana, Ross, Marianne, Lorena, Kaitlin, Ambre, Alex on 7 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: David Wilson

      David Wilson answered on 7 Jun 2019:

      A really common one I do is to look for a change in a gene being expressed. Depending on whats going on in a cell a gene might get turned on and be expressed more than usual. If this happens I can measure it. What I would then do is go and look to see if it that gene made a protein and could I see the protein in the cell or tissue. There’s a few different ways of doing this but it’s a really useful set of experiments to be able to do because I can then try and change the gene or protein expression and see if I’ve made a difference.

    • Photo: Shobhana Nagraj

      Shobhana Nagraj answered on 7 Jun 2019:

      Thank you for the question! I work as a Clinical Researcher/doctor. I do types of experiments that involve people – called clinical trials. Clinical trials can be either ‘Observational’ or ‘Interventional’. An observational trial can used to study a group of people over time, (called a Cohort study), to see if a certain group of people develop a particular disease (prospective cohort study), or to look back into the lives of a group of people with a certain disease outcome, and to see if there were exposed to any common factors (retrospective cohort study). Cohort studies take a long time to do – a whole lifetime sometimes! An example of this, is how they found out about the links between smoking and lung cancer – really interesting to read how they did this here: https://www.ctsu.ox.ac.uk/research/british-doctors-study
      There are many other types of observational study too.
      An example of an interventional study is something called a randomised controlled trial. These are often considered a gold standard type of experiment in the world of clinical research. This is when two groups of people are randomly allocated to a particular treatment or to no treatment/ a comparison treatment. We then follow-up the two groups and see if there are any differences in the outcomes they have relating to their health. We use this type of study when we might have a new drug or intervention we want to test out to see if it makes a difference to patients. There is a pretty in-depth explanation of this type of research here if you are interested!: https://emj.bmj.com/content/20/2/164
      I am involved in doing interventional studies. I hope that helps explain a bit about the type of experiments I do!

    • Photo: Marianne King

      Marianne King answered on 7 Jun 2019:

      My most recent experiment was looking to see whether my diseased cells had more of a certain protein than my healthy cells. I do this by adding an antibody ‘against’ the protein I want to find. The antibody will bind to the protein, and then I’ll add a second antibody that attaches to the first one. The second antibody though is attached to a fluophore, something that fluoresces when you hit it with certain wavelengths of light. This way it can be like ‘hello! Here’s your protein!’. These come in a lot of different colours. When you then look at your cells down a special type of microscope you’ll be able to see the protein in red (or green, or blue etc depending on the fluophore colour). You can then use imaging programs to work out how staining you have!

    • Photo: Kaitlin Wade

      Kaitlin Wade answered on 7 Jun 2019:

      I don’t really do “experiments” – in the traditional sense – as part of my job. I do “in silico” experiments, meaning that all the work I do tends to be on the computer.

    • Photo: Shonna Johnston

      Shonna Johnston answered on 11 Jun 2019:

      I don’t do many experiments myself but I am involved in lots of other researchers experiments. They come to me when they want to use the technology and I advise them what they need and what to do then I help them to setup their samples on our instruments and get data. I then advise on how to analyse the data. My own experiments tend to involve testing the instruments and seeing what they are capable of so that I can better advise the researchers. We often see trends in the cell types of interest and we work with the researchers to make their experiments they best they can be.