As the Summer comes to an end some of us will be wrapping up our research while others, like myself will be continuing to work on it through the coming months and potentially even years. As our research snowballed into bigger and bigger topics we all can say one thing for sure is that research never goes the way it’s planned to.
When joining the Brackenridge fellowship early in the Summer I had a very naive view of the daily operations of research. I believed that most of the time setbacks didn’t occur and if they did they were minor, and if they were major, well that was just a design flaw in the experiment. But I didn’t realize how wrong I was until my own setbacks occurred.
My project started without a hitch, my virus production for my gene therapy was going smoothly and the mice with which we were studying had come in. As time went on the mice became pregnant which was another step in the right direction, since we were studying gene therapy in the early eye development of young mice. But then setbacks happened. The mice litters did not survive, and one after the other a litter either didn’t make it or died shortly after injections from infanticide by the parental mice. With each lost litter I was set back by at least three weeks, it was at that point that I realized there wasn’t a flaw in my project even though this was a major setback. Science is just tricky and very rarely right on the first try. It wasn’t until I got my data showing repigmentation in the eyes of a mouse that made all that worth it. The proof that the project was working and we could finally move forward was a relief and a joy to see it in real physical data!
Overall I couldn’t be happier with my experience in the Brackenridge fellowship this Summer, the best part about it I believe was learning about the various different projects spread across the fellows. I’ve always been on a one track mind when it comes to science so it was a refreshing pace to listen to those of you who created short stories to talk about discrimination, to using music to examine how it influences far right politics. All fascinating and interesting topics that I feel could have major impacts in helping our society. Being surrounded by such an intelligent and inquisitive crowd made me happy and excited to be in each meeting and hear from each of you this Summer!
My future plans for this project is basically to just keep working! In the next coming years my lab hopes to gather enough data on this gene therapy project to publish our results. But in the meantime I will continue to to test my gene therapy on the mouse models. Now that we have produced data saying that we can regiment the retinal epithelium we will be looking at what virus and promoter types will best express the gene as well as our best delivery method!