Blue Lab Coat Stories: Adventures of a Lab Technologist

I should have titled my blog that! Oh well, the title now comes from another blog I did off of Blogspot (which I totally killed after something went wrong in my life. Who needs the bad memories). I am very lucky to be working in a lab where there is really never a dull day (even on Saturdays), so why complain? Think about it for a moment, would science really be boring? I mean if you think that go ahead, but then you are probable sleeping through science class. Now I decided I would let you in on what happens most days.


I take the bus to work every day since trying to find a parking spot (with no meter) in South Lake Union is non-existent (see post : 2 Parking Tickets + Patrol Car = Ride The Bus). This commute is usually with a lot of people who work along Eastlake in the life sciences companies, U of Washington Medical Center and Amazon. The morning commute is not really as bad as the one going home, but I like how I can get to work without the hassle of sitting in Seattle famous traffic.

I start at 8:00 am every morning with a nice cup of English Breakfast tea in my hand, and whatever I thought would be good for breakfast that particular morning (have no shame when its cold pizza or a Cliff bar). I make my lab rounds as in housekeeping, checking temperatures on incubators, refrigerators, freezers and nitrogen tanks to make sure nothing is a missed over night. Start setting up my lab bench and hood for what I am going to be doing that particular day.

Looks like FedEx arrived!
Looks like FedEx arrived!

Around 9:30-10:30 am FedEx shows up with our blood samples from our clinical trial sites from across the country. This involves un packing all the boxes containing blood tubes of subjects in our prostate cancer therapy drug trials. There are days where I am drowning in blood! Those days are called blood bath days because so much of the samples are 100ml of blood each.

The next two and half hours is processing all the clinical trial samples and separating the cells in the cancer subject’s blood into viable immune cells we need to do our research on and collecting viable data for our drug product. This entails me pooling 6-9 tubes 9ml of blood together from each subject and separate the red blood cells from the white blood cells along with other immune cells present. After successful separation of cells, I aliquot (dividing) certain amount of cells to freeze in liquid nitrogen tanks for future experiments.


Lunch! Yes Lunch!


For the rest of my work day I am either running experiments on the cells to gather clinical data on each subject for our trials or crunching the data generated by theses experiments. Some days I have to assemble clinical kits for our many sites that send in blood samples of patients in our clinical trials.

Today was running our E SPOT assay plates into a plate reader to see how many immune spots were visible from one of our subjects. How this works is plating a small 96 well plate with an antigen that reacts with the cancer subject’s antibodies they have acquired from our company’s drug treatment. Depending on the subject’s success with our treatment, most of the wells in the plate should have spots florescence back to show a reaction. The day before I had plated all of the subject’s immune cells from all the time points the subject had gone into through and now needed to see how successful the subject’s treatment was. After running through the machine, the computer shows a picture of each well and the spots on the screen. With this screen shot, I can count how many spots there are present to see how much of a reaction the subject’s immune system mounted on a tumor antigen. The treatment was a success.

Around 4:00pm I head home for the day. Going back on the bus during commute time can result into getting up close and personal with some people. Most days I don’t even get a seat until a few stops before my stop. So my day ends like everyone else in Seattle with a commute out of the city. week 9_edited-1

Ok so it may not seems glamorous, but this is what I do everyday.