Field of Science

Back to doing the urgent stuff

For the last couple of months I've been doing experiments that were important but not particularly urgent, examining relationships between culture media, purine genes, and culture growth and competence.  Now it's time to turn to a couple of things that are both important and urgent.  One is preparing a talk about the diversity of natural competence, for a meeting next week.  The other is revising our unsuccessful CIHR grant proposal on DNA uptake for the September 15 submission deadline. 

The meeting is of the Integrated Microbial Biodiversity Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIfAR), and it's in Seattle (yes, not in Canada), from the evening of Thursday August 19 to lunchtime on Sunday August 22.  CIfAR meetings are always excellent: small (by invitation only), focused, very interactive, great food and accommodations.  My title is "Sporadic sex?  Scary food?  The biodiversity of natural competence", and I'll have 30 minutes (25 + questions).  In my talk I want to pull together our published work on the distribution of competence and transformability and integrate it into the bigger picture of why bacteria take up DNA.

The grant proposal is less urgent but more important.  It's already pretty good, but not good enough (it was ranked 10/47 but only 8 were funded).  The reviewers' comments were quite favourable.  Usually that's a good thing, but now it means that we don't have much guidance about what should be changed to make the proposal stronger.  The first step will be to sit down and carefully read the proposal with as fresh a mind as possible.  That should be easy, as I haven't looked at it or thought much about it since the end of February.  Then I'll read the reviewers' comments again.  Then we'll make all the immediate improvements we can, with the goal of having a draft ready for internal review in a week.

But first (most urgent but should be quick) we have to submit by Wednesday the documentation we need to get our Genome BC grant activated on October 1.  I've gathered the various forms and letters, but we're waiting for some information about Illumina sequencing costs from the Genome Sciences Centre.  We need this so we can can decide on the most cost-effective sequencing strategy for our $50,000.  Then we'll get a Statement of Work for this project from the GSC, and finalize the budget.

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