Baboons, Shrimp and a Heatwave!

This week I did real time PCR on the baboon DNA after first running the ‘house-keeping’ PCR which checks that that DNA has been successfully extracted. Afterwards the amplicons were visualized under UV light following gel electrophoresis; for this ethidium bromide is used as a dye that intercalates the DNA and so enables visualization of the amplified DNA.

There were 19 positive samples out of 31 which was a surprising find. To confirm this, the DNA was sent off to be sequenced and then the nucleotide bases were sorted and matched using a computer programme.  As no specific baboon babesia has been classified, a new species could be discovered and this could lead to further research funding opportunities.

One evening I tried a real southern American dish of shrimp and grits followed by a game of trivia in the bar. On Friday night Hannah and I went out to listen to one of the guys in my lab who plays in a band and afterwards we went on a bar crawl which was interesting!  The following night we went to a restaurant followed by the cinema.

There is currently a heat wave here, 1000F, such that you are told to stay inside with aircon!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

In the beginning…

We arrived on Sunday afternoon and settled into our accommodation. Hannah and I are staying at different places, but both with NCSU students. On Monday morning we went straight into our respective labs. I am working with Professor Ed Breitschwerdt in the Vector Borne Disease Diagnostics Laboratory. The lab mainly focuses on using PCR and sequencing to test samples for the presence of disease causing organisms. For the first couple of days I shadowed PhD students in the lab to learn the different techniques I will need to perform during my stay. A meeting was held on Wednesday to decide my role in the project; I will be using samples from sand flies to test for Bartonella (a zoonosis).

On Wednesday some blood samples arrived from baboons to test if they were infected with babesia so these were given to me to begin my training. Contamination of the samples can easily happen so the correct techniques are imperative. Under strict supervision we began with lessons in pipetting accurately in a safety cabinet before beginning!

The following day I seemed to have locked myself out of my bedroom and as Tracy the PhD student I was staying with was on holiday I had to call out a locksmith to open the door. It cost $110!!!!!!!!!!!!

That evening I met up with Hannah and her mentor, Dr Jody Gookin, to attend a dinner for all the other summer research students who were nearing the end of their projects, as their semesters start in August not October like ours. In America in order to study for a degree in veterinary medicine you need to have an undergraduate degree in science first so all the other summer students are currently undertaking their second degree programme.

The heat here is very oppressive and humid and they have a lot of violent thunderstorms. Apparently we will be here in September when the hurricane season starts!

On Saturday Hannah and I went shopping in Cameroon village near my house which has lots of boutiques and smart shops.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off