Saturday, August 11, 2012
This week wasn't too exciting from the clinical aspect. I got to see patients with Dr. Rosenblatt at the clinic, but I worked on my research project for the most part of the week. I was able to grow my cells on the silk films, however when I tried using my flow chamber on the silk films, I did not get a proper vacuum seal on my silk films most likely due to a void space created by the elevation of the silk film off of the bottom of the dish. However, I have come up with an idea to create PDMS molds to allow for the silks to adjust to the height difference. However because time has run out for the summer immersion program, this would have to be something I need to explore further on past the summer immersion program during my tenure at the Rosenblatt lab, since I will be doing my PhD in his lab at Weill Cornell Medical College.
This week I did not really get a chance to visit the clinic or shadow a surgery. However, I did work more extensively on my project. I used the silk fibroin extract solution I produced last week to cast and process 14mm diameter silk films. Then I seeded my HCLE cells on the silks to used for my flow chamber experiments. I decided to use this time, much higher shear stresses to notice any marked differences in cell behavior between cells grown on tissue culture plastic and cells grown on silk. Under about 800 dynes/cm^2 of shear stress, I was able to drastic results. A certain percentage of cells had detached sheared off of the tissue culture plastic under the strong shear forces. I took time lapse images at different time points of 24, 48, and 72 hours to notice if there were any differences.
On Monday, I had the chance to shadow Dr. Rosenblatt during three cataract removal surgeries. I was surprised to find out that patients are actually awake during the operation which also surprisingly lasts no more than 20 minutes. Most of these patients have been suffering from greatly reduced vision due to the cataracts. Most patients can immediately notice a restoration of vision when the cataracts is removed and the lens is replaced, and that is because although the patient is sedated, the optic nerve is not. During the rest of the week I worked a little bit more on my research project. Last week I had not seen marked differences in cell behavior or adhesion under low shear stresses. As such, I decided to grow more cells to repeat my experiments next week with greater shear forces. I also extracted and processed my silk fibroin, from Bombyx Mori silk worm cocoons, that I will use to make my silk films for my experiments.
This week I started off by collecting HCLE cells and seeding them in small 35mm dishes for my experiments. I seeded them at a rather low density because I would first like to see how the cells behave under laminar shear stress on a single cellular level. I decided that over the course of the week I would take time lapse images after 24 hours of growth, and then 48, and then 72 hours, to see differences in morphology, cell behavior, and adhesion. Dr. Rosenblatt is back in town and I got to see patients with him on Wednesday in the clinic. One of the patients had come in for a post op follow up after a cataracts surgery. It was great to see in person the different medical conditions that my research would help develop treatments for.
This week Dr. Rosenblatt was out of town. However I did not waste any time in getting around to shadowing a corneal transplant surgery. It was very interesting and thrilling. I have never been in such a setting. It is easy to see that although the science behind medical practice and lab research are the same, there is a different set of people skills that doctors and physicians have. Interacting with patients requires a whole different set of social skills that is something we don't really get to see or have to practice often while doing research in a lab setting. With that said, working with patients has definitely gave me a different perspective on the way medical care is delivered. This week I also started to work on my research project. I am using a parallel plate flow chamber to culture corneal epithelial cells under laminar shear stress. I started by first culturing my HCLE cells to be used in the study. They should be confluent and ready to use on Monday.
These two weeks were very exciting. The feeling of working in a clinical and hospital setting is definitely thrilling and far different than working in a research lab. I didn't get to do much around the hospital because it took me a bit of time to get familiar with getting around and touring the different facilities around the school. My adviser, Dr. Mark Rosenblatt showed me around his clinical office and introduced me to the residents and fellows working there. We also got to discuss the research project that I would be working on during the summer. I am very excited to work on this project, and gain some of the medical knowledge that would help me with my research.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Well....it's done. The program is officially over. I must say it's a little bittersweet. On one hand, I'm back home now, and man did I miss my apartment. Going back to a place all by myself with a queen sized bed and kitchen that only I use has been absolutely fantastic. It was also kind of funny to step outside of the bus and realize that, yup, that's the smell of fresh air outside. I had started to forget. But on the other hand, I really enjoyed NYC. I was in the clinic chilling with people during downtime, and a few of them asked about me missing a clinic outing that had happened over the weekend. It was funny; I didn't think I would be noticed, since I had only been around for a few weeks, but I feel like that place was starting to feel very comfy. Some of the patients got used to me being there too, and there are some people I will definitely miss. I'm also sad that I missed out on seeing a tumor resection that last week, just due to the way my schedule ran at the end. But I did finish sketching out networks for Dr. Shah, and he was very happy about it. I have to say that I was proud of them too; they turned out much more impressive looking than I expected. We met with the pathologists again, and this time a biostatistician joined the meeting as well, and we discussed what amount of patients and samples would be necessary for the different experimental and control groups. That time around, I wasn't sweating bullets in the meeting. It felt much more normal, especially since the people in the meeting expected me that time. I also got props from one of the doctor for my network sketch; that definitely didn't hurt either. That week I also observed an arterial valve replacement, and that was crazy. I do wish I had more involvement from the surgeons though. Oh well; it was still cool. I feel like a lot of neat things happened at the end, now that I'm sitting here looking back. Even the bus ride back home was eventful, albeit in a scary way. The bus driver accidentally gashed his head open loading bags into the bus, but luckily the ER was right around the corner. Perks of being in/around Weill Cornell. And the driver ended up being just fine, and we went on our merry ways. Now I'm back in Ithaca again, and it's time to get back to das business.