Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Sandra Porter at Discovering Biology in a Digital World posted this video (embedded below) made by one of her colleagues. It shows the whole process of preparing and running an agarose gel to resolve DNA samples. This is something that I've done about a million times in the lab, but I thought it was really cool to see it in a short video. I even learned a few things! (For example, because I am woefully ignorant of all things electronic, I never actually learned which electrode was positive or negative on a gel box. I just remember "black in the back / run to the red" to keep them straight!)

After watching this educational and oddly soothing video (I've repeated some protocols so many times that thinking about them is akin to a meditative mantra), I decided to see what else I could dig up on YouTube. I actually found a playlist of 15 different videos covering SDS-PAGE and Western blots! The videos brought back unpleasant memories of those darn BioRad plates (maybe I just don't know my own strength, but I broke a lot of those little glass plates at my old lab), but the time-lapse images of gels running are actually quite beautiful, and I learned a couple of new tricks. Plus, the last video, Demystifying SDS-PAGE, is adorable. It appears to be the work of two student instructors explaining this technique to a class of bio-newbies. I was immediately won over by their dorky enthusiasm, and by their chocolate cake analogy. It made me want to go teach undergraduate bio lab!

Anyway, I thought these videos would be entertaining for scientists and interested laypersons alike. If you want to know how I spend my time in the lab, these two techniques cover a lot it.

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