What I Learned at My First Branch Meeting: Gratitude, Service and Collaboration

Today’s blog post is written by guest blogger Sarah Kolb, Marketing Coordinator for our North America Branch, and new employee at Promega.

As a new member to the North America Marketing team, I was unsure of what to expect going into my first national sales meeting with Promega, but what I took away from this meeting was incredibly eye opening. The North America Branch Sales meeting is an opportunity to get all of the members of the North American branch together to learn about new products, connect with the different strategic business units about product application and network with each other to learn how to better the lives of our customers. The year’s meeting occurred in May in the Ideation room at Promega Headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin.

NA branch meeting

The room itself is not your typical conference space. An antique car resides in the space, and you can find art-work from all over world nestled in corners, and on the walls and shelves. All around the room, collections of unique furniture are arranged to stimulate conversation. Ideation created an atmosphere of creativity, community and collaboration, which contributed to the overall success of the meeting.

I felt excitement Monday morning as the 62 attendees gathered in the space. Everyone greeted each other with big smiles and hugs, asking about families, travels and already discussing business. Continue reading

Previewing ISHI 27: Mitochondrial DNA Analysis in Forensic Investigations

Credit: National Institutes of Heath, USA

Mitochondrial DNA has important implications for forensic analysis. Image Credit: National Institutes of Heath, USA

The 27th annual International Symposium on Human Identification—ISHI 27—will be held September 26-29 in Minneapolis, MN. One of the largest conventions focused on forensic DNA analysis, ISHI features presentations on the latest advances, interesting cases and key issues relevant to the field. In anticipation of this years’ conference, here is a preview of one talk, provided by Dr. Mitchell Holland of Penn State University (Dr. Holland will also be participating in the June 28 TechTour in New York). The focus of Dr. Holland’s research is mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis and its application to human identification. At ISHI, he will be presenting his recent work using NextGen sequencing to analyze mtDNA heteroplasmy.

mtDNA heteroplasmy was key to identifying the remains of Tsar Nicholas II

mtDNA heteroplasmy was key to the identification of the remains of Tsar Nicholas II

Heteroplasmy is the presence of more than one mitochondrial genome within an individual. Perhaps the most famous example of the effect of mtDNA heteroplasmy on a forensic investigation is the identification of the remains of Tsar Nicholas II. mtDNA from bones discovered in a mass grave in 1991, was identical in sequence to known relatives of the Tsar except at one position, where there was a mixture of matching (T) and mismatching (C) bases. Lingering doubt caused by this result meant that confirmation of the authenticity of the remains was delayed. Ultimately mtDNA analysis provided the needed evidence for identification, showing that the same heteroplasmy was present in mtDNA extracted from bones of the Tsar’s brother, confirming the Tsar’s identity (Ivanov et al., (1996) Nature Genetics 12(4), 417-20).

Here is what Dr. Holland had to say about the work he will present at ISHI: Continue reading

Optimizing Antibody Enrichment for Pharmacokinetic Assays

Schematic showing immuno-enrichment using High Capacity Magne® Streptavidin Beads.

Schematic showing immuno-enrichment using High Capacity Magne® Streptavidin Beads.

During preclinical research and development of therapeutic antibodies, multiple variants of each antibody are assessed for pharmacokinetic (PK) characteristics across model systems such as rodents, beagles and primates. Ligand-binding assays (LBA) or liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry(LC–MS/MS)-based methods represent the two most common technologies used to perform the PK studies for mAb candidates(1,2).

Using either method it is essential to ensure accurate quantitative results that the initial enrichment of the target therapeutic antibody from serum or plasma be optimal. Biotinylated antibodies or antigens (against the therapeutic targets) immobilized onto high capacity streptavidin beads will enrich therapeutic antibody from serum or plasma samples. (Figure13666MC.eps). The affinity of biotin for streptavidin (Kd = 10–15) is one of the strongest and most stable interactions in biology therefore the biotin-streptavidin interaction cannot be reversed under non-denaturing conditions. Hence, it is possible to perform extensive washing to remove nonspecifically bound protein and elute therapeutic antibodies without also eluting the biotinylated component, thus improving the detection limit.

Magnetic based separation techniques have several advantages in comparison with standard separation procedures. This process is usually very simple, with only a few handling steps. All the steps of the purification procedure can take place in one single test tube. The magnetic separation techniques are also the basis of various automated procedures. Learn more about  the High Capacity Magne™ Streptavidin Beads (Cat # V7820) .

References

microRNA: The Small Molecule with a Big Story

Introduction

miR-34 precursor secondary structure. The colors indicate evolutionary conservation. Ppgardne [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

RNA molecules have become a hot topic of research. While I was taught about messenger RNA (mRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and transfer RNA (tRNA), many more varieties have come into the nomenclature after I graduated with my science degrees. Even more interesting, these RNAs do not code for a protein, but instead have a role in regulating gene expression. From long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) to short interfering RNA (siRNA), microRNA (miRNA) and small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA), these classes of RNAs affect protein translation, whether by hindering ribosomal binding, targeting mRNA for degradation or even modifying DNA (e.g., methylation). This post will cover the topic of microRNAs, explaining what they are, how researchers understand their function and role in metabolism, cancer and cardiovascular disease, and some of the challenges in miRNA research.

What are microRNAs? MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short noncoding RNAs 19–25 nucleotides long that play a role in protein expression by regulating translation initiation and degrading mRNA. miRNAs are coded as genes in DNA and transcribed by RNA polymerase as a primary transcript (pri-miRNA) that is hundreds or thousands of nucleotides long. After processing with a double-stranded RNA-specific nuclease, a 70–100 nucleotide hairpin RNA precursor (pre-miRNA) is generated and transported from the nucleus into the cytoplasm. Once in the cytoplasm, the pre-miRNA is cleaved into an 18- to 24-nucleotide duplex by ribonuclease III (Dicer). This cleaved duplex associates with the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), and one strand of the miRNA duplex remains with RISC to become the mature miRNA. Continue reading

Discovering the Truth About the Dozier School for Boys

Dozier School for Boys gravesite

Photograph from The Tampa Bay Times

The Dozier School for Boys had cemeteries instead of playgrounds.

The stories of abuses that took place at the reformative school in Marianna, Florida are nothing short of a plot for the TV series American Horror Story. The beatings and other punishments administered to students throughout the school’s 111-year history contributed to the deaths for some of the nearly 100 deceased.

A 2010 investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement did not lead to criminal charges against the school because there was “no tangible physical evidence for allegations of physical and sexual abuse.” The full report is available on The White House Boys Survivors Organization’s website, a name derived from the shed where the boys were beaten with wooden panels and leather straps. At the time, only 32 unmarked graves were known in the school’s cemetery. Continue reading

A Crash Course in CRISPR

CRISPR is a hot topic right now, and rightly so—it is revolutionizing research that relies on editing genes. But what exactly is CRISPR? How does it work? Why is everyone so interested in using it? Today’s blog is a beginner’s guide on how CRISPR works with an overview of some new applications of this technology for those familiar with CRISPR.

Introduction to CRISPR/Cas9

27850283-June-13-CRISPR-image-WEB

Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) were discovered in 1987, but it took 30 years before scientists identified their function. CRISPRs are a special kind of repeating DNA sequence that bacteria have as part of their “immune” system against invading nucleic acids from viruses and other bacteria. Over time, the genetic material from these invaders can be incorporated into the bacterial genome as a CRISPR and used to target specific sequences found in foreign genomes.

CRISPRs are part of a system within a bacterium that requires a nuclease (e.g. Cas9), a single guide RNA (sgRNA) and a tracrRNA. The tracrRNA recruits Cas9, while sgRNA binds to Cas9 and guides it to the corresponding DNA sequence of the invading genome. Cas9 then cuts the DNA, creating a double-stranded break that disables its function. Bacteria use a Protospacer Adjacent Motif, or PAM, sequence near the target sequence to distinguish between self and non-self and protect their own DNA.

While this system is an effective method of protection for bacteria, CRISPR/Cas9 has been manipulated in order to perform gene editing in a lab (click here for a video about CRISPR). First, the tracrRNA and sgRNA are combined into a single molecule. Then the sequence of the guide portion of this RNA is changed to match the target sequence. Using this engineered sgRNA along with Cas9 will result in a double-stranded break (DSB) in the target DNA sequence, provided the target sequence is adjacent to a compatible PAM sequence. Continue reading

Common Misconceptions About Scientific Terms: Volume 2

Misconceptions About Scientific Terms Volume 2Media coverage of the Zika virus and colistin-resistant E. coli have introduced new terms for some people. What do they all really mean? Even people with technical backgrounds may benefit from a refresher. This set of eight terms covers topics related to diseases and nutrition. This article is a continuation of my previous blog post about scientific words that are frequently misunderstood.

Epidemic

Common misconception: A disease that is going to kill all of humanity or turn us into zombies.

What it means for scientists: According to the Centers for Disease Control, an epidemic is “an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area.” This could happen with a new strain of the flu or with something more devastating like Ebola. There is an endemic level, or baseline, for the number of people affected by the flu at any given time, and an epidemic would be a significant increase from this level. The endemic level for diseases like Ebola would be zero. Epidemic diseases that spread across multiple continents are considered pandemic. Continue reading

A Day In the Life: Mikael Arnfelt, Promega Sales Manager, Sweden

*Today, June 6, is Swedish National Day – a fitting day to highlight this Promega employee.

Promega sales representatives worldwide find themselves on the road on a regular basis—it is, after all, part of the job description. Traveling many miles to visit customers, they’re fortunate to enjoy a steady change of scenery and a variety of daily tasks.

Mikael at a Finnish police lab where he was servicing a Maxwell instrument.

Mikael at a Finnish police lab where he was servicing a Maxwell instrument.

For Mikael Arnfelt, Sales Manager of Promega’s Sweden branch, travel obligations are sometimes taken to a higher level. That’s why we wanted to share his adventures for our “Day In the Life” series; though as Mikael is quick to point out, there’s really no such thing as a “typical day,” at least not in his life!

Mikael’s experiences begin to make sense once you learn more about his position with Promega. “We are a small branch, so we each need to take on multiple roles,” he explains. “In the beginning I was the only sales rep for Sweden, so until last year I took care of southern Sweden and all of Finland/Estonia, together with our distributors there.” He and his few colleagues are also responsible for many different product groups—Mikael’s include Detection Instruments, Cellular Analysis, and Applied Markets. “I am also the back-up for order taking,” he says. “I currently cover this seven days a month, and during vacation periods, so my colleague can work on various administrative tasks, and even take some vacation himself.” Continue reading

Summer Friday Fun Blog: Science Humor

It is the start of summer here in Wisconsin, so it’s time for some Friday Fun (#FridayFun) blog posts on Promega Connections. To kick us off, I have scraped the internet for a few good and groaner, G-rated science jokes.

So, here it goes, a few jokes to send you smiling (or shaking your head) into your weekend.

Has anyone read the book on antigravity? I hear you can’t put it down.

Has anyone read the book on anti-gravity? I hear you can’t put it down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Awakened Consciousness in Review: Revisiting What We Learned

FORUM PRESENTERS Front row l-to-r: Chip Conley, Malynn Utzinger, John Roulac, Bill Linton, Raj Sisodia; Back row l-to-r: Steve Paulson, Mike Mears, Tim Weitzel, Betsy Myers, Martin Kalungu-Banda

FORUM PRESENTERS
Front row l-to-r: Chip Conley, Malynn Utzinger, John Roulac, Bill Linton, Raj Sisodia; Back row l-to-r: Steve Paulson, Mike Mears, Tim Weitzel, Betsy Myers, Martin Kalungu-Banda

Co-coordinated and co-hosted by the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute (BTC Institute) and Promega Corporation, the International Forum on Consciousness – Awakened Consciousness and the Evolution of Business, was held on May 5–6, 2016.

The Forum is designed to bring together people from diverse perspectives and professions to facilitate public dialogue regarding complex and challenging issues.  This year, our intent was to respond to voices of wisdom and action that call for a shift in the consciousness of organizations that affect the lives of so many and planet Earth.  Key among the questions we asked: How does the self-actualized business become a model and advocate for change?

Our sense is that those who joined us left both more knowledgeable and inspired.  Comments from participants illustrate the importance of offering this opportunity, as well as deep appreciation for our presenters’ experience and insights:

audienceDiverse perspective relatable to many – excellent… overall, engaging, fascinating, action oriented…

Thank you so much for the wonderful program.  The diversity of speakers, viewpoints and topic was really enjoyable and provided great room for thought.  It was truly impressive.  Wonderful & kudos to the organizers and all the work and thought to create this program.

panelAn amazing experience, potentially life changing (we’ll see…).  Really top notch, felt like a series of TED talks, but with the added benefit of in-person interaction and a cohesiveness of topics.

Sound interesting?  There are several ways you can learn more about the Forum and get a meaningful taste of what these attendees are describing:

If you’re not on our mailing list and would like to be, just let me know (karin.borgh@btci.org) – hopefully, we’ll be offering a program of interest to you in the days ahead!