Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Too many live wires

Hello to anyone and everyone who has found themselves here! The idea behind this blog is to offer a fresh perspective on the complex life inside living cells. 
Tools of the trade: Pipette.
Used by biologists to mix precise
amounts of liquid such as DNA
in solution. (For hours on end.
Whilst tied to a lab bench.)

Why listen to me?

I am a systems biologist. I look inside cancer cells to examine the wiring between different genes and proteins which might be at fault. Then, because this wiring is often tangled, I get up from the microscope or lab bench and plonk myself behind a computer.

It is here that we use whatever we’ve been able to see to build a virtual model of parts of the cell. These models allow us to make sense of all of the information we see and, more importantly, to predict what might be happening to what we can’t see.

I’ll go into what Systems Biology actually is in a later post.

My posts will also try to answer questions like:

What does the latest “scientists find the gene for <insert something horrible here>” headline actually mean?

What’s in the research papers from around the world that most newspapers don’t report on?

and also…

How do I get into biology if I have a maths or computer science background?

and the tricky one... What are scientists actually like?

Wiring inside cancer cells: HeLa cervical cancer cells, enigneered in a dish to glow different colours
 as they prepare to go through cell division. We can learn a lot about the cell's inner wiring from
measuring how quickly these "traffic lights" change.
Watch the movie here!

I hope this blog will be unique, useful and <gulp> even entertaining! Any technical jargon will be explained, messages will hopefully be clear, and I won’t go on for pages and pages with some lofty opinion or other. I will hopefully be posting every two weeks (at least) and, unlike most blogs, there won’t be any recipes.

Apart from this one.

Tomato, caper and mint pasta sauce

(serves 4)
The lab. Science is a lot like cooking really.

1 decent handful of spaghetti
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp capers, drained
1/2 tbsp tomato puree
1 handful chopped mint
1 handful chopped basil
pinch of chili flakes

Warm the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat, then add the garlic.
After 5 minutes or when garlic starts to brown, remove garlic and add tomatoes. Stir.
Simmer for 5 minutes then add puree and chili. Stir again.
Leave simmering for 10 minutes adding salt and pepper as you like.
Whilst this is bubbling away cook the pasta in salted water.
With one mintue to go add the capers, mint and basil. Stir well.
Drain pasta, serve and spoon over the sauce.


Many thanks to Professor Mike White, Dr Dave Spiller and Rick Stein.

No comments:

Post a Comment