Today’s blog is written by Malynn Utzinger, Director of Integrative Practices, and Tim Weitzel, ESI Architect.
Last month in this series, we posed to you that the most important decision you’ll ever make is the one about how to respond to the circumstances of your life – the story you tell yourself when the rough patches of life show up. Because of our brains’ wiring, we tend to spin self-defensive and blaming stories as a first line of defense until we learn to pause, check in with ourselves, and cultivate a narrative of more generative possibilities. This month, we promised you a next-level story that shows the outer impact that happened when one person changed his self-talk.
Today’s post is written by guest blogger, Elizabeth Smith, PhD, Field Client Support Specialist at Promega
As a person of color (POC), I would like to share my story to raise awareness on how important diversity programs are in my community and how they helped to shape my career. My hope is that it will inspire the younger generation and provide insight into a different perspective. Growing up, I always felt like there was something great out there for me to achieve. As a young child, never did I imagine that I would have what it takes to obtain a PhD. This was not on my radar as a young student, and not something that I thought would ever be in my future. I did not see people that looked like me reflected in this space, so I never considered it early on.
I knew that I wanted to go to college with a science focus, but I did not really explore what life would look like or should look like after that. What I was sure of was being involved in science in some way. Whenever, someone asked my younger self, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer would always be, “A Scientist!” All throughout elementary and high school, I focused on science related courses and did very well. This enabled me to apply for and receive a full undergraduate scholarship.
At this level of my education, I felt like I had to prove to everyone, and even myself, that I belonged here. That I was deserving of this scholarship and placement at the university. That I was good enough to receive a bachelors.
This post was written by guest blogger, Nitin Kapoor, from our Promega India branch office.
The COVID-19 crisis has led to substantial worldwide efforts to develop drug treatments and vaccines effective against SARS-CoV-2. Termed a novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the same family as that of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) viruses that were responsible for epidemics in 2003 and 2012 respectively (Lu et al. 2020)
India reported more coronavirus infections than any other country in the world during July 2020. Records topped 50,000 new cases each day.
Recognizing the need for a fast development of assays to detect SARS-CoV-2 and identify exposed individuals and to support research into better understanding the coronavirus, Promega’s branch office in India developed a how to “Battle against Novel Coronavirus” live virtual event that was hosted by its associate partner, Biotecnika. The virtual event featured scientists and business professionals focused on SARS-CoV-2 Detection and Assay Development. Around 9,000 attendees from the scientific community attended the live event and had the unique opportunity to ask Promega scientists questions about the virus, its products, and vaccine development.
Several of the most often asked questions from the event participants are highlighted below:
How is RT-PCR testing different from serological testing for COVID-19?
SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus so the first thing we will be able to detect is the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Testing for antibodies is called serological testing. Such a test can identify who has been infected with the new coronavirus but it cannot necessarily identify an active infection. The antibodies are detected later, after symptoms developed, and are believed to stay on in the blood for at least a few months. Serologiocal tests are used for checking epidemiology, not for diagnosing an active infection.
With all of the COVID-19 cases, there is a need for quick turnaround on tests. How can the Maxwell Instrument help?
The Maxwell® RSC instrument is a compact, automated RNA extraction platform that processes up to 48 samples simultaneously in less than 35 minutes, so in typical 8-hour shift instrument can process up to 400 samples. The Maxwell® RSC 48 Instrument is for research use only.
How can your Lumit™ technology be used to understand immune response to SARS-CoV-2?
Technologies built around the Lumit platform can be used in immunoassays in which NanoBiT® subunits are conjugated to a pair of secondary antibodies. The target analyte can be detected by adding an antibody mix either containing two primary antibodies against the target analyte along with SmBiT- and LgBiT- conjugated secondary antibodies, or by adding SmBiT- and LgBiT- conjugated primary antibodies. Binding of the primary/Lumit™ secondary antibody complexes to their corresponding epitopes brings NanoBiT® subunits into proximity to form an active NanoLuc® luciferase that generates light in proportion to the amount of target protein.
Additionally our NanoLuc® and NanoBiT™ technologies are being used to create reporter viruses used in vaccine and therapeutic research and development (2,3).
What is your opinion about upcoming vaccine?
COVID-19 is one of the biggest global health concerns, with massive economic burden. With no clear remedies to treat the disease, researchers are racing against the clock to trial COVID-19 vaccines. Promega supports scientists, working to understand the molecular mechanisms by which emerging viruses infects and to develop accurate detection methods, therapeutics, and vaccines.
We support scientists working to develop vaccines and to answer questions about viral pathology and treatment, including:
How does the binds to and enters cells?
How does the body respond to the virus?
What treatments can be used to alleviate symptoms?
How can immunity to the virus be gained?
“Promega technologies are used in studies monitoring key steps in viral pathogenesis,” said Rajnish Bharti, Promega India General Manager, “including detecting virus interactions with host cell surface receptors, tracking and monitoring production of viral nucleic acids and proteins within the cell, and monitoring host cell viability and metabolism.”
You can view the online recording of the webinar below:
Lu R. et al. (2020) Genomic characterization, and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding. Lancet. 2020; 395:565–574. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30251-8. [PubMed]
Nitin Kapoor, Manager of Marketing Services for Promega Biotech India, Ltd. joined Promega in Oct 2017. Nitin Kapoor has 9 years of expertise in Sales and Marketing in Life Sciences, Pharma/ Biotech, Molecular Diagnostics and Forensic domain. His specialties are Product management , Sales force effectiveness, Market Research, Brand positioning & Competitor analysis. Before joining Promega he has worked with companies like Qiagen , ThermoFisher Scientific & GE Health care. He has completed MBA Biotech Gold Medallist from Amity University Noida . He is also an Author for Book: ‘Issue Related with Marketing of GM Food’ LAP publisher and is co-author for research paper on ‘Marketing of Nanobiogarments’ in IJMRA, Volume 2, Issue 4.
This post was written by guest blogger, Karen Stakun, Brand Manager at Promega Corporation.
When I arrived at the garden that morning, I was completely focused on the clusters of ripe tomatoes I’d hoped to see. I was there to take photographs, and the red, ripe fruit was going to be the star of the show. In every direction, there were long rows of plants: raspberries, peppers, okra, cabbage, fennel and kale. A black pickup truck pulled up to the edge of the Promega garden and a pair of well-worn work boots landed hard on the dewy grass. Mike Daugherty introduced himself as a Master Gardener, Master Composter, and member of the Promega culinary services team.
Mike laid out black plastic crates at the end of each row of the tomato garden. There were 700 bed feet of heirloom slicers and paste tomatoes to be harvested. Seduced by the intense red, orange and yellow of the juicy tomatoes, my thoughts immediately drifted to visions of BLT’s, caprese salad and gazpacho soup. As he hand-carried 3 or 4 tomatoes at a time and laid them in the crates, Mike called my attention to all the other things that were going on around the fruit.
Today’s blog is written by Malynn Utzinger, Director of Integrative Practices, and Tim Weitzel, ESI Architect.
There’s an old story about a traveler who happens upon a stonemason. “What are you doing?” the traveler asks. The stonemason says wearily, “Can’t you see I am cutting and laying down stone? My back is killing me, and I can’t wait to stop.” Down the road, the traveler encounters a second stonemason and asks him the same question, “What are you doing?” This stonemason, more energetically, replies. “I’m building a wall. I am blessed to have a profession that allows me to support my family.” Walking on, the traveler encounters a third stonemason doing the same work. This stonemason is beaming with life. When the traveler asks what he is doing, he spreads his arm wide and exclaims, “I am building a cathedral that will uplift lives for centuries to come!”
This blog was contributed by guest blogger, Lindsay Walker, Marketing Specialist with the Promega North America branch office.
The Good Food Institute predicts that plant-based protein innovation will enable meat alternatives to surpass the functionality of animal products, acknowledging that “given biological limitations, animals are about as cheap, delicious, efficient, and healthy as they’re going to get, but plant-based proteins are just getting started and have nearly endless room for optimization”.
If you are the “family scientist” you may find yourself answering questions about things like antibodies, immunity and serology from friends and family curious about the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the news they are seeing. Whether you are an oceanographic cartographer or a seasoned immunologist, we hope that this infographic about antibody testing helps.
Today’s blog was written by guest bloggers Tara Luther, Marketing Specialist Genetic Identity, and Allison Suchon, Manager of Tradeshows and Events at Promega.
2020 has been a year of changes for all of us. We’ve learned how to keep in touch while physically distancing. We’ve learned how to work from home with furry coworkers who encourage us to break from the traditional 9–5 routine. We’ve learned how to make changes to our labs to stay safe and productive.
For many of us, this will also be the first time that we attend a virtual conference. While it’s easy to focus on what we’ll be missing by not gathering together, there are advantages to moving to the virtual space. By making the most out of your virtual experience, you’ll be able to walk away with valuable insights, a robust network, and insights that you can use in your own lab.
To help, we’ve put together a list of tips that will help you maximize your experience at any virtual conferences you attend.
Today’s blog is written by guest blogger, Erin Schuster, Quality Specialist at Promega.
Change is not easy. It can be challenging and even frustrating at times. Yet, the outcome of change can be incredibly beneficial and rewarding. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are finding ourselves in out-of-the-norm situations and circumstances. Change may be exactly what we need in order to adapt and move forward.
As a quality assurance specialist, I’m very familiar with the processes that can be associated with change. In order to make changes related to the design, manufacture or testing of medical devices and related products, an organization must have clearly defined expectations and instructions within Standard Operating Procedures. Procedures are a key component of the quality management system. Not only do they communicate best practices, but they’re required for compliance to applicable regulations and standards. These procedures, regulations, and standards help ensure products are safe, effective and of high quality.
Unlike changes to medical devices, the process to make life changes does not have a standard operating procedure. Best practices may vary from person to person. There are no regulations or standards to follow. Left to our own devices, we may procrastinate and never quite get around to making the change. Or if unsure of how to even begin, we may feel anxious and overwhelmed, giving up before even starting. I have experienced both scenarios and know I will again.
I am a quality assurance specialist, and I am also a human being. I have made many changes to myself and aspects of my personal life, as well as having supported many change orders and product changes throughout my career. Reflecting on these experiences, I realize there are universal themes within the change control process and change orders that can be extended to any kind of change.
This blog is written by guest blogger, Heather Tomlinson, Director of Clinical Diagnostics at Promega.
Finding safe and effective treatments for human diseases takes time. Medication and diagnostic tests can take decades to discover, develop and prove safe and effective. In the United States, the FDA stands as the gold-standard gatekeeper to ensure that treatments and tests are reliable and safe. The time we wait in review and clearance means less risk of ineffective or unsafe treatments.
And yet, in a pandemic, we are behind before we even start the race to develop diagnostic tests, so critical for understanding how an infectious disease is spreading. That is when processes like the FDA’s fast track of Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) are critical. Such authorization allows scientists and clinicians to be nimble and provide the best possible test protocol as quickly as possible, with the understanding that these protocols will continue to be evaluated and improved as new information becomes available. The EUA focuses resources and accelerates reviews that keep science at the fore and gets us our best chance at staying safe and healing.
For scientists working around the clock, the FDA’s EUA process is ready to review and respond. Getting an EUA gives clinical labs a very specific and tested resource to guide them to the tools and tests to use in a crisis.
Typically the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will develop the first test or protocol that receives FDA EUA in response to a crisis like a pandemic. For COVID-19 the CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel received FDA EUA clearance in early February. This is the test protocol used by the public health labs that work with the CDC and test manufacturers around the world.
Throughout a crisis such as the current pandemic, scientists continually work to improve the testing protocols and add options to the EUA protocols. This enables more flexibility in the test protocols. Promega is fortunate to play a part of the CDC EUA equation for diagnostic testing. Our GoTaq® Probe 1-Step PRT-qPCR System is one of a few approved options for master mixes in the CDC qPCR diagnostic test, and now our medium-throughput Maxwell 48 Instrument and Maxwell Viral Total Nucleic Acid Purification Kit have been added to the CDC protocol as an option for the RNA isolation step as well. These additions to the CDC EUA means that laboratories have more resources at their disposal for the diagnostic testing which is so critical to effective pandemic response.
The Emergency Use Authorization provides the FDA guidance to strengthen our nation’s public health during emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. The EUA allows continual improvement of an authorized protocol through the collaborative efforts scientists in all academia, government and industry to identify and qualify the most reliable technologies and systems, giving labs more flexibility as new products are added as options.
Dr. Tomlinson is the Director for the Global Clinical Diagnostics Strategic Business Unit at Promega Corporation with over 15 years of experience in clinical diagnostic test development. She is responsible for leading the team that drives strategy in the clinical market for Promega. Her background is in infectious disease diagnostic testing, with a focus on HIV drug resistance and evolution. Her recent work has been in oncology companion diagnostic test development. Heather has is an accomplished international presenter, delivering conference presentations in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa.