We arrived on Wednesday and settled into our accommodation. Jade and I are both staying with NCSU students who live a 10 minute walk from each other so we can meet up really easily.

On Thursday morning we went straight into our respective labs, mine being the Vector Borne Disease lab of Dr Ed. Breitschwerdt.  This lab has two sections diagnostics and research; the diagnostics section focuses on serology and using antibodies to diagnose diseases in cats and dogs and the research section which uses PCR and gel electrophoresis to research into vector borne pathogens such as Bartonella and Babesia. Continue reading »

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We are having a fantastic time, the weather is incredible, and we are currently having a heat wave so temperatures are exceeding 100oF!

The social life is good and the lab work is incredibly interesting. The day after we arrived we went straight to the University and met the scientists we will be working with for the next 3 months and were guided through the type of work we would be undertaking. I am working in the Gastrointestinal Physiology department where they are researching the effects of stress as a result of early weaning of piglets. In these studies the effects of the stress are determined by the number of mast cells present in tissues and the nature of the Mast cell degranulation.

On my first day I was taught how to cut tissue that had previously been treated and frozen into sections, so by the second day I was cutting the tissues on my own and mounting them onto slides prior to staining. I also learnt the protocol for immunofluorescence, which is fairly complex and time consuming, but when the slides are viewed under a fluorescence microscope the images are incredible. For the rest of the week I have cut tissues on the Cryostat in order to create slides which I have then stained.  The stain colours the majority of the tissue blue, however it stains the mast cells purple, which enables them to be easily counted under the microscope. In the afternoons I have been counting these mast cells and imputing the data into a spread sheet in order for it to be analysed at a later date.

The people I am working with in the labs are so helpful and friendly and so willing to answer any questions I have. We have been out for lunch a couple of times, which has helped me get to know everyone better.

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