With only nine days left before we fly to Accra, everyone is working hard to prepare for our time at the University of Ghana. Nora, Marina, and Catherine have been analyzing wild type strains of E. coli from Nigeria with a technique called Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR. PCR is an extremely helpful tool for molecular biology research, since it allows for researchers to determine genes contained within strains of E. coli. We’ll use PCR to detect different categories of E. coli and the resistance genes within those strains. However, PCR requires particular conditions in order to work, so a lot of time can be spent troubleshooting so that the PCR will give accurate and reliable results. Fortunately, things have been going well so far.
My project, with the A6 cells from Xenopus, is also going well so far. Maintaining tissue cultures isn’t too difficult, but it’s critical that everything remains sterile so that the cells do not become contaminated. Contamination is a lot easier to prevent, however, when one has the proper equipment. We’re lucky enough to have large tissue culture hoods with ventilation to prevent unwanted microbes interfering with our cells. In Ghana, we won’t have these types of hoods, and instead will work in smaller, wooden cabinets with a glass front.
There’s a lot still to do, both in and outside the lab. Since we’re going to West Africa, we’ve all had to acquire the necessary vaccines, anti-malarial pills, and visas (and our visas have just arrived safely!). Fortunately, our science center helped us obtain our visas and plane tickets. Now all we have to do is finish familiarizing ourselves with necessary techniques for lab, and pack!