Monday, June 20, 2011

Sharing is caring

We do western blots in our lab. The process, from the time of sample collection to the time of developing the blot, takes a week. Recently, people have been unable to get some of their western blots to work. Now you would think I might know this because they brought it up at lab meeting or perhaps because graduate students and other post-docs in my lab talked to each other, but you would be wrong. No one said anything to anyone else. Apparently, in our lab we do not believe that sharing is caring.

Things that could have been said but were not include:

"Dear PQA, do you know why the westerns are not working?"

"Excuse me, PQA, resident expert that has done 3,000 westerns, do you know why my blots are not working?"

"Dear lab, I have noticed that this very common procedure we all use is not working, anyone know why?"

Instead everyone started repeating their westerns, over and over and over again, and shockingly they continued to not work. I learned on Friday that this has been going on for three weeks. THREE WEEKS!

I learned this because I am collaborating with another post-doc in the lab and when I asked him to run the westerns he told me they were not working and he didn't know why. So after talking to various lab members and learning exactly what part of the process was not working for everyone, and then double checking our stock reagents, I realized that someone had ordered the wrong antibody. Everyone has been using the wrong antibody, without checking the tube, because it was in the right box and hence everything had stopped working. This took me about 30 minutes to do.


30 fucking minutes to fix a problem that four people in the lab were struggling with for three weeks!

WTF fellow lab members? How hard is it to talk to each other?!?!? Are you all really this scared of admitting that a mistake might have been made? Is it really preferable to having non-working experiments for weeks on end? If your shit isn't working, why aren't you trouble-shooting? Why are you all repeating the same experiment over and over again without changing/testing any of the parameters? Am I really this smart or are you all really this stupid?


So yeah, ordered the correct antibody, it will be here tomorrow.


  1. Don't they complain to each other about things? I'm always totally complaining about stuff. Like how it took me an hour to find the right .do file for the regression for Table II, Panel II and you'd think by now I'd be more organized.

  2. I don't know, it certainly doesn't seem like it. I feel like this latest batch of graduate students is from Mars. So strange, so frustrating.