My posting has been a bit infrequent because I've been focused on getting drafts of our two grant proposals ready for pre-submission critiquing by the volunteer reviewers (blessed be their names and their progeny). But that's done, with a lot of help from a grad student and a postdoc. I've committed myself to the Week of Science Blogging, so I'll be posting at least daily for the next week.
We put a fair bit of effort into crafting a tightly focused "Significance" section to end each proposal (after the detailed descriptions of the experiments we propose). It's important to avoid ending with strings of platitudes, so ours is a bit on the edgy side. On the other hand we can't afford to sound too arrogant (this is a Canadian granting agency).
Some science: We had been hoping to be able to use preparations of cell membranes to study how a radioactively-labeled 'test' DNA fragment interacts with the uptake machinery. But we had overlooked the problem of all the cellular DNA that will be released when we break the cells open to get the membranes.
When the cells are first opened the uptake proteins will bind the abundant cellular DNA, and unless we get rid of the DNA they've bound, they will never bind our test DNA. In principle we could get rid of the cellular DNA by adding a lot of DNase I, an enzyme that breaks down DNA. But then we would need to get rid of ALL of the DNase I , as otherwise it will break down our test DNA!
The postdoc (who discovered the problem) is going to do some preliminary testing to see if this analysis can be salvaged, perhaps by repeatedly washing the membranes to get rid of the DNase I.
FieldNotes: Oliver Sacks, and irreproducible psychology
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