Pack a Little Science into Your Summer with Advanced Courses from BTCI

This new cGMP facility was built to have the least effect on the natural environment as possible--surrounded by rain gardens and native plantings, using grey water for flushing toilets--sustainable growth was the goal.

Summer on the Prairie at Promega–Study science surrounded by birds, bees, flowers and amazing prairie.

Summer, a much-looked forward to season. We typically pack in the activities and make the most of the daylight. We work hard and we play hard.  This summer will be no exception, and at the BTC Institute, we are already getting set to host as many students as we can. We will see middle and high schoolers, K-12 teachers, college students, graduate students, college and university faculty and staff, and professionals in the biotech community under our roof at some point. You may want to join us too!

Our programs for advanced learners, geared toward the graduate student or biotech professional, offer much more than just a rigorous immersion in molecular biology theory and practice. Held at the BTC Institute at Promega Headquarters, they are taught by highly knowledgeable scientists, coming from both industry and academia. These instructors offer a wealth of information and share their expertise as well as life experiences with students. Informal discussions about career trajectories and access to industry are important added benefits to attending these off-campus workshops. Continue reading

Introducing Quick Protocols for iPad

The Promega iPad App has recently been updated to include a new interactive feature called Quick Protocols. These protocols offer scientists the a choice of over 70 protocols for use in interactive format at the lab bench. Using this feature, you can run protocols, add notes, and activate timers as needed. You can also add commonly accessed protocols to a Favorites list, view a time-stamped protocol you’ve completed, e-mail a completed protocol with notes or send it to a dropbox account.

The goal of providing protocols for iPad is to make it easy to access and use a variety of protocols at the lab bench, and to enable users to annotate, share and save protocols for future use.

Here is a quick overview of how it all works: Continue reading

Colony PCR: Another Use For Toothpicks

I still remember my JOY (sadly, yes) when I first learned about colony PCR. It allowed me to avoid a laborious procedure involving genomic DNA isolation, restriction digestion, and (the dreaded) Southern blotting. I was trying to show definitively that a transposon had successfully been inserted into a target gene. Using colony PCR, I could just amplify the DNA from a colony and then show that the transposon increased the size of the expected PCR product compared to a control. Joy. I could also use colony PCR to screen DNA libraries for desired recombinant clones, thus avoiding many minipreps. More Joy. There had to be a catch, it seemed too easy, almost CSI-esque.

Colony PCR is now a widely-used method for quickly screening large numbers of bacterial cells for a gene of interest. When screening recombinant clones, PCR screening of colonies decreases the screening time by one full day compared with miniprep-based methods. Use of a hot-start polymerase in the PCR also allows the convenience of leaving the PCR reactions at room temperature for up to 24 hours before processing, something that becomes attractive when you have a large number of colonies to process or a long walk to fill your ice bucket. Continue reading

An iPhone™ App for Scientists

Up until now, my relationship with the mobile phone has been an uneasy one. I have had one for years but used it only in cases of dire emergency. The only point in having one (I thought) was to be able to call for help if I was stranded on the side of the road, or to inform the police if a mad axe-man happened to be chasing me down the street. In the face of advancing technology, I steadfastly refused to text, even although all around me others had adopted it as a routine part of their lives. It wasn’t so much that I was against the idea; I now realize that I had just never possessed the right mobile device. Continue reading