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  • Journey of a cancer sample, part III

    Haley Bridger, July 21st, 2011

    Today, the cancer samples we have been following will go from tangible pieces of tissue to something a bit more abstract: invisible strands of pure DNA. In the process, the samples will be whirled and spun through laboratory machinery, incubated over night, and washed repeatedly with different chemical substances. The final product of all of this will be large droplets of clear liquid at the bottom of tiny, plastic Eppendorf tubes.

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  • Engineering the liver

    Haley Bridger, July 14th, 2011 | Filed under

    The liver is a critical and intriguing organ, and our understanding of it continues to evolve to this day. As reported in a paper published earlier this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Broad and MIT researchers teamed up to put artificial liver tissue to the test (read the news story here and Project Spotlight here).

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  • Invitation to an evening of science

    Haley Bridger, July 5th, 2011 | Filed under

    More than a hundred years ago, Austrian monk Gregor Mendel observed something astounding in flowering pea plants: a first glimpse of genetics. Today, Mendel’s observations about how physical traits pass from one generation to the next continue to inspire amazing discoveries.

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  • Mystery of the mitochondria

    Haley Bridger, June 22nd, 2011 | Filed under

    Postdoctoral scholar Fabiana Perocchi remembers her Ph.D. advisor once telling her that if you want to go from a million candidates to a few thousand, you need to find something that does not agree with the pattern.

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  • Molecule makers

    Haley Bridger, June 21st, 2011 | Filed under

    Damian Young’s laboratory at Harvard is a fun place to visit – if you can find it. The lab is housed in the depths of one of the interconnected buildings on Oxford Street, and getting to it requires navigating the twists and turns of many hallways. The lab itself is filled with all kinds of equipment for synthesizing chemical compounds – including an apparatus called a solvent dispensing system, which a chemist can use to decant aliquots of reagents the way a bartender might pour whatever is on tap.

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  • Journey of a cancer sample, part II

    Haley Bridger, June 9th, 2011

    On a drizzly Monday afternoon, clinical pathologist Chin-Lee Wu sits down at an unoccupied desk a few feet away from one of the Broad’s bustling laboratories and gets ready to examine over 100 slides beneath a microscope. Chin-Lee is a surgical pathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital where he specializes in urological cancers, including prostate, kidney, and bladder cancers. For the last three years, he has also served as a consultant pathologist for the Broad, peering at prepared slides of cancer samples and making sense of the cellular disarray.

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  • Small molecule detectives

    Haley Bridger, June 6th, 2011

    Robert Flaumenhaft, a research investigator at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, wants to understand a major cause of disease and death. His research lab studies platelets – circulating cells that play a key role in arterial thrombosis, in which a blood clot blocks the flow of blood through an artery potentially leading to a heart attack or other complications. When platelets are activated (turned on), they begin releasing small particles called granules and binding to one another until a clot forms.

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  • Journey of a cancer sample: A first glimpse

    Haley Bridger, May 19th, 2011

    Last week, I visited research associate Clint Chalk in the laboratory of Broad’s Biological Samples Platform (BSP). Clint had just received a collection of tumor tissue samples from patients with lung cancer, which arrived in small, circular containers called cassettes. (Most of the time, samples are shipped to the Broad in pre-barcoded vials so these samples were a little unusual.) Clint slid the edge of a forceps under the cassette’s lid to pop it open and reveal a piece of pink tissue within, about the size of a pencil eraser.

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  • A suite of tools takes flight

    Haley Bridger, May 16th, 2011 | Filed under

    One summer day, two Broad researchers who had never met before sat next to each other at a lunch table. Moran Yassour, a graduate student in computational biology, and Manfred Grabherr, an engineer turned computational biologist, struck up a conversation about their research interests.

    “I realized, this is the Manfred people have been telling me about,” Moran recalls. “People had told us about each other but we’d never spoken before.”

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  • It’s a TRAP

    Haley Bridger, May 9th, 2011

    Individual nerve cells are obscured in the dense, forest-like geography of the brain. Unlike blood cells, for example, which are solitary travelers and can thus be easily captured and studied in isolation, the nerve cells (or neurons) of the brain conceal their identities among a thicket of similar-looking, but functionally diverse neighbors.

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