Phoebe's PhD

A Day in the Life of a PhD Student


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Half way through 2017!

Can you believe we are at the end of July already? Time flies when you are working hard!

I have had a month with my new RNA Seq data and for a variety of reasons I have not made very much headway with further data analysis! I started by looking at the 50 most differentially expressed genes (up and down regulated) in my different comparisons and just doing some quick internet researching around them to get a feel for what the genes are involved in but I am still to do proper gene ontology and pathway analysis. In saying that I did have an extremely useful meeting with john from the Henderson group where I explained the project and shared some of the results so he could get a feel for what I was trying to achieve and point me in the right direction for the next steps. He was very enthusiastic about my results and is happy to be my point of contact whilst I tackle the analysis (phew). So my current focus is to use R to generate lists of all 616 upregulated genes and 1024 downregulated genes which I can then take forward to Gene Set Enrichment Analysis and Network Analysis (causing me a little bit of a headache at the moment!).

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And in the future I want to compare this data set with similar data sets on different tissues eg liver and kidney to see if I can pull out pathways etc that are imperative to the scarless healing we see in the endometrium but not these other tissues.

In the coming weeks this set of results needs to be validated so I will be choosing a handful of the genes that have come up as being differentially expressed and using RT-PCR to confirm the changes in the set of samples I sent to Edinburgh Genomics as well as in a new and independent set of samples. This work may take a while but it is completely necessary for the project.

As I successfully landed the funding for new transgenics I have now ordered two new lines: inducible PDGFRb-Cre and inducible NG2-Cre which will allow me to specifically target and tattoo the endometrial mesenchymal cells and the endometrial pericytes respectively. With such elegant tools I can hopefully begin to pick apart the more precise mechanisms of scarless endometrial repair and finally address the feedback from my first year review!

So things are in motion as I enter a turning point in my PhD- one year in the lab left… oh golly gosh me!

Outside of the lab July may just have been my busiest month this year and it was full of birthdays! It started with a surprise party for my best friend Lauren who is also studying for her PhD through in Dundee on Cancer Research. I have to say it was tricky organising a surprise in another city but I had one of her lab mates to work with which made things easier and Lauren definitely got a surprise!

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The following weekend was Andy’s 25th Birthday for which I presented him with a portable BOSE speaker and meal out to get burgers AND nachos (I know I spoil him too much) and we had a weekend in Edinburgh together which was lovely.

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We then travelled north to Coylumbridge to celebrate Andy’s uncle and aunt’s joint 70th Birthday which was a weekend of eating, drinking, being outside (sometimes in the rain) and catching up. We also went to the Highland Wildlife Park which was great fun.

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Then it was my Sister’s turn to turn 30 and celebrate in style with a private party in Espionage’s Kasbar with a popstars theme and so because we are 5 sisters we went as the spice girls. I was sporty spice so donned my sequined crop top and glitzed up trackies for the night and we all had a fantastic time.

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Jemima birthday 2

Finally my family put on a fundraising fashion show in Glasgow just last weekend for the Liver Trust in memory of one of our dear friends Sheona Lockhart who tragically passed away 5 years ago after a long long struggle against Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. My sister Jemima was in charge of organising the event longside Sheona’s parents who wanted to do something spectacular to remember her and celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. So we travelled through with over 50 amazing costumes that my three older sister have made throughout their time studying costume design at the ECA and from themed parties that we have had over the years, and put on a show which comprised of 3 minute sets of the costumes modelled and acted by us with music, lighting and stories to accompany each.

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The whole event was a huge success as the audience loved every minute, we loved every minute and felt so so proud to do something so worthwhile in memory of Sheona. Not only that but we raised over £5000 for the Liver Trust which was the cherry on top of the cake.

sheona

It has been a very busy month and August looks to be just as busy what with the arrival of the Festival but I am lucky enough to have a two week holiday in Mallorca at the end of August coming up so I have nothing to complain about!

Until next time.
XXX

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RNASeq SUCCESS

I thought I would start by sharing the exciting news that my RNA sequencing project came back with successful RESULTS!!! After two weeks with the Edinburgh Genomics bioinformaticians we were presented with an extremely robust and thorough report that included principle component analysis, quality assessment plots and differential gene expression heatmaps along with all of the raw data. I have to say the guys at Edinburgh Genomics have been so helpful and supportive throughout this study and we would not have generated the data we have without their help!

 

To prepare myself for this moment I went on an RNASeq data analysis course which was actually quite full on but I now have a lot of information about how to tackle RNASeq datasets and do further analysis such as gene ontology analysis. So this is the next step for me- I want to get to grips with the raw data I have and try to do more with it (Luckily there is an experienced bioinformatician in my second supervisor’s group just down the corridor so I have no doubts I will be visiting him while I find my feet with this!). I am actually quite excited to have some bioinformatics experience and it sure will look good on the old CV 😀 And I have been told this may occupy me for quite some time so be prepared for bioinformatics chat in my next few blogs!

In other lab news, as a result of a discussion at the SRI Annual meeting in Orlando I contacted an electron microscopy facility in Edinburgh King’s Buildings and had a meeting to discuss the possibility of doing some transmission and scanning electron microscopy (TEM and SEM) on endometrial tissue samples. This is to confirm that endometrial pericytes are found within the basement membrane of endometrial blood vessels, which is a vital characteristic if I am to call them pericytes! I ran a trial this month and gathered some interesting images, it took a while to get my eye in but I think I may have the evidence I need.

In addition I submitted an abstract for the ‘SRI MRC-CRH Symposium on targeting inflammation to improve reproductive health across the lifecourse’ in August this year, and I am happy to say I have a talk to give at that. This will focus on my data on monocyte and macrophage population dynamics during endometrial repair and how this knowledge may be important when tackling gynaecological disorders. Definitely good to keep my presentation skills fresh!

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Finally I had my Second Year PhD Review where my Thesis Committee get together after reading my second year report to discuss the work and my progress and bring up any problems there may be. This went really well with extremely useful conversations about the expectations for my final year (eek!). The only moment I froze was when I was asked about my future and what I want to do next- this is something that hasn’t been are the forefront of my mind and something that scares me a bit. But my committee members were really kind and supportive and were happy to discuss all of my options. So I came away from the meeting feeling confident and ready to work my socks off in the coming months to make some important steps towards finishing with a fabulous PhD- lets hope I get there!

In my out-of-lab time I have been really busy this month. I organised a social event for the Tissue Repair students where we went down to Urban Paintball in Leith for some messy and sore fun. I managed to find a Groupon deal which allowed us entry for only £1 each so it was cheap and cheerful and everyone had a great time. But beware it is a bit sore and you get EXTREMELY sweaty- so much so that no one wanted to go for drinks afterwards!

 

I also spent one evening at the Festival Theatre watching the opera La Boheme with some fellow PhD students. I have never been to the opera before and I was blown away by the beautiful singing and the emotional story and I would really recommend seeing it. I now want to visit the theatre at least once a month!

My younger brother Arthur graduated his undergraduate degree in Architecture while my younger sister Augusta graduated her undergraduate degree in Illustration and therefore the whole family got together to visit their degree show, where the work of all the 4th Years in the College of Art is on display for the public to see. I was so so proud of both of my incredibly talented little siblings and it was lovely to see all of their hard work displayed in all its glory. Arthur is now heading off into the working world and Gussie is starting a Masters degree in Publishing come September… this means she and I will be finishing around the same time- BIG celebrations to come in 2018 😀

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And finally I ended the month on the sunny island of Cyprus with my boyfriend Andy. We had a whole week in the 38C sun in a private villa and spent the days relaxing, eating, drinking, exploring the island and we even went parasailing (daredevils).

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It was a truly magical holiday and I loved every second of it and when I came back I felt rejuvenated and happy again…

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I urge you all to make sure you take a break this summer, nothing makes you more enthused about your work than stepping back from it for a wee while!

Until next time.

XXX


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The work goes on…

May has brought about the start of some good weather and the promise of a sunny summer is on the horizon! This bodes well for me as my hands no longer freeze on my bike ride into the lab and I am starting to get a nice Scottish tan!

I have been busy in the lab this month.

My dihydrotestosterone study came to an end with some interesting results complimenting previous findings on how DHT delays endometrial wound healing: http://www.fasebj.org/content/30/8/2802.long this is a link to the paper on which I am second author if you are interested in more information 😀 .I have also been doing several immunofluorescent stains with the aim to start some cell counting and quantification of the ratio of pericytes to endothelial cells in endometrial tissue, and RT-PCR gene expression analysis on repairing endometrial tissues looking for inflammatory signals and chemoattractants to compliment my immune cell studies. My RNASeq project is still underway, the laboratory team have processed my samples and now the data is with the Bioinformaticians. We had a really helpful Skype meeting with them to discuss the experimental design and analysis strategy so hopefully some results will come out of this before the end of June- more next time!

RNA analysis

In other PhD related news I submitted an application to the MRC for funds to support the importation of two transgenic mouse lines that are imperative to my studies. They are Inducible Cre lines which work through the Cre-LoxP system. I will try to explain this in simple terms: the Cre-recombinase enzyme is only expressed in a specific group of cells which is determined by the gene you choose, this cre-recombinase is floating around in the cytomplasm in an inactive state until you administer tamoxifen which activates the enzyme and sends it to the nucleus. Here the Cre-recombinase cleaves at LoxP sites and for my work these sites surround a STOP signal. When this signal is cleaved downstream expression of a reporter gene is activated and Red Fluorescent Protein (RFP) will be expressed. The beauty of this system is that the cells tagged with RFP will stay RFP positive for the rest of their lives even if they change cell phenotype etc. In this way I can target a specific group of cells (pericytes), tag them with RFP at a specific time ie before or during endometrial repair, and then trace what happens to them in the process.This is called lineage-tracing.

Inducible Cre

And the good news is my application was SUCCESSFUL so this is all going ahead!

I was also involved in this years’ ‘Pint of Science- Sex in our City’ event where I gave a talk alongside Professor Richard Sharpe to members of the public in a pub who were interested in finding out about the research that us scientists do in the lab and why we do it. It was a really great event, our session sold out and we had a lot of interest from the public. I thoroughly enjoyed approaching my work from a lay point of view and trying to get the important messages across whilst also adding some humour, and I did a good job it seems as I was recommended for the Modlothian Science Festival in Autumn by the PoS organisers- a job well done!

We had the first Annual Tissue Repair Away Day to attend which was held in Newbattle Abbey in Dalkeith. For this, all the Tissue Repair students were required to give an 8 minute presentation with only 5 slides: 1 title, 3 data and 1 acknowledgements, to update the programme organisers on our projects and future directions. Everyone did a really great job ad it was super to find out what everyone is researching, our programme is so diverse and yet we were all able to offer valuable insights into eachothers work. I received really great feedback so am feeling on track and ready for the final year of my PhD.

TR Away Day

Finally I attended the IAD Edinburgh GradSchool 2017, a three day course aimed at third year PhD students who are struggling to figure out what comes after the PhD. It was an interesting course made up of short talks and team working activities which were aimed to enhance personal skills. I had a good time and met some really nice people with whom I hope to stay in contact and best of all it was fully catered and the food was really good haha!

Gradschool 3

I had a reasonably quiet time outside of the lab this month with only 2 events to report. My mother came down to visit me for the weekend and we went out on Saturday night with my boyfriends mum and sister to a meal at Mother Indias Cafe (absolutely delicious and I highly recommend a visit) followed by the Mathew Bourne Production of the Red Shoes ballet at the festival theatre. It was the first time that the mothers have met (6.5 years into the relationship- haha) but the evening was really lovely and the ballet was beautiful so I only had good things to report back to Andy- phewf!

Ballet

And the second event was going to see the new movie BAYWATCH in the cinema with my younger sister… I’m not going to lie to you I was just extremely excited to see the wonderful DWAYNE THE ROCK JOHNSON in little red swimming shorts SAVING THE DAY 😀 It was a funny over the top type of film but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

baywatch

Anyway until next time!

XXX


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New Studies!

Let me first update you on the progress of my RNA sequencing project. The samples were sent off at the end of last month and after completion of all necessary administration, they were passed on to the laboratory team for processing (see email!). Two weeks later I was informed that 29/30 of my samples had PASSED the Edinburgh Genomics in house quality assessment and were ready for library preparation. Currently I am now in limbo as I wait for the data to be generated and sent to me for data analysis which will include mapping read to the murine genome, transcript read counts and differential expression analysis between my different experimental groups. After what will be a lot of work this will hopefully this will open up a while set of new and exciting leads for my project.

EG update 1

Most of my energy since the beginning of this year has been focussed on getting these samples generated and sent away, which you will know if you have read my blog posts from January through to March! Now that they have been sent away I have been busying myself with work that was side lined and planning for the next few months. A few examples include: analysing uterine tissues from the MacApple transgenic to compliment studies with MacGreen tissues to show that the site of transgene insertion does not alter the results I have gathered to date; performing some characterisation PCRs on isolated cells to highlight genes expressed specifically in pericytes but not stromal cells; and performing polarised light microscopy on tissues stained with picrosirius red which not only shows the presence of collagen but distinguishes between type I and type III bundles adding that little bit of extra information to the data.

I have also started a new study where we are assessing the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT, a potent androgen receptor agonist) on mesenchymal cell populations during endometrial breakdown and repair. Previous studies within the group have shown that administration of DHT delays endometrial wound healing and I want to see if these effects are in part due to effects on mesenchymal cells in particular. More on this next time!

I ended this month by giving my second Research in Progress (RIP) talk to the centre where I was updating everyone on the work I had done since my first talk alongside a colleague Thane Campbell. The talk went really well (bar one mind blank moment which for me felt like a full minute!!) and I got a lot of enthusiastic and interesting questions.

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The audience was a mix of principle investigators, postdocs and students but I was pleased to see it interspersed with the encouraging faces of my supervisors, lab group members, Tissue Repair peers, office mates and lab friends. I think I gave a confident delivery and got some nice compliments about both the experimental work and the presentation itself- Professor Stuart Forbes who runs the Tissue Repair PhD programme even came to congratulate me afterwards so I was very proud of that! My third and final RIP talk will be in a year’s time and I am actually looking forward to it!

I have also been busy outside of the lab this month. I had a girls catch up weekend in Dundee with my undergraduate friends: Lauren who is doing a PhD in Dundee on cancer biology; and Gabby who is a Secondary School Biology teacher in Hawick in the borders. We did a day trip to Stonehaven where we visited Dunottar Castle, ate jumbo portions of award winning haddock and chips, and queued for 30mins to sample Aunty Betty’s amazing icecreams, followed by a pamper session and night out to Club Tropicana with tunes from the 80s and lots of dancing. On Sunday we nursed hangovers and relaxed and then went our separate ways.

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But the following week we were back together as we travelled to Newcastle to see the incredible Ed Sheeran live in concert, supported by Ryan McMullen and Anne-Marie. It was an amazing night of music and Ed Sheeran blew us away with his talent- it was just him and his guitar on stage and yet it sounded like a full band… Absolutely amazing!

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The following weekend I was at home to celebrate Easter with my family in the traditional Kirkwood way with an easter egg hunt in the rain, painting egg portraits for the rolling competition and a delicious roast dinner- all organised by my fantastic mother!

Easter

And finally I spent the last weekend in April celebrating my younger sisters 23rd birthday and then warming a colleagues flat with a karaoke party that got a little loud and ended up being shut down by the police at half 1 in the morning… luckily there have been no repercussions for said colleague or any of the guests and everyone agrees we had a great time before the end!

Jennis party

So until next time!

XXX


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The SRI Annual Meeting 2017

March began with the arrival of my very expensive but hopefully science-saving cDNA amplification kit that I needed in order to amplify my samples for the sequencing project. This was a kit recommended by Edinburgh Genomics as it uses a reliable reverse transcription enzyme that synthesises cDNA across a broad range of RNA input concentrations in an unbiased manner. And for this reason it was very expensive… and for this reason I was quite nervous about running the protocol!

However I just had to approach the task in a sensible and calm manner. I took a day to read and re-read the protocol and gather everything I would need, making sure I was completely ready and comfortable with the methods. I did a trial run with 5 samples so that I could familiarise myself with the protocol and iron out any tricky areas and then I ran the remaining 25 samples the following day. Because the quality of these samples was of utmost importance I had two work areas: a pre- and post-amplification area and these were cleaned thoroughly with 70% ethanol then RNase Zap and DNAOFF prior to starting. I had to make sure that nothing would ruin these as I only had one shot.

I guarantee you are feeling tense reading this but believe me when I say this was the most nervous I have ever been whilst carrying out an experiment and I don’t fancy doing it again! However all my care payed off as I managed to successfully amplify more than sufficient concentrations of cDNA with quality scores that exceeded the recommended value.

And with that the samples were finally ready to send to Edinburgh Genomics… It felt amazing to drop them off in the lab and now I all I have to do is wait for the results! VERY EXCITING!

After that I was lucky enough to take a trip out to Orlando, Florida where the Society for Reproductive Investigation’s 64th Annual Meeting was taking place. This was my first international conference and my first international flight and although I was really nervous I can say I thoroughly enjoyed both: the plane journey was made shorter by the fact that I could watch movies I had missed in the cinema including ‘Inferno’, ‘Jackie’, ‘The Arrival’ and ‘Dr Strange’ and that we were given free food and drinks throughout; and the conference was in a beautiful hotel and jammed full of interesting talks, fun social networking events and many many friendly and intelligent scientists!

I attended the meeting with my Supervisor Professor Philippa Saunders, Mentor Dr Doug Gibson and former PhD student and lab bestie Dr Bianca DeLeo and it was fab to have their support throughout. I gave a talk during the endometrial satellite session which was 25 minutes long and based on the work I have done to investigate pericyte dynamics during endometrial repair and remodelling. It was a nerve wracking experience but was very well received and I got a lot of questions from the audience which sparked later discussions throughout the rest of the conference. I got to know many important people and they were all offering advice, ideas and encouragement which has definitely boosted my confidence not only in my work but also in myself.

I also had a poster presentation and was lucky enough to have people to chat with during the entire hour and a half session, once again gathering some interesting ideas to move the work forward. All four days of the conference were highly enjoyable and it was a really valuable experience.

As a treat after all the hard work we spent an afternoon in Universal Studios ‘Islands of Adventure’ which comprises of rides and rollercoasters themed around favourite movies including Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, King Kong and Marvel superheros. We drank butterbeer and looked at the Hogwarts Castle, survived a Velociraptor attack, got absolutely soaked on a ‘Hilariously wet’ log flume ride, screamed our lungs out on the Hulk rollercaster and ended the day eating some delicious Mexican food. It was a really great end to the trip and the perfect way to let our hair down!

Other highlights included an absolutely delicious seafood meal with the group and friends, a day relaxing by the pool under gorgeous 26C sun and of course the obligatory sunburn courtesy of my pale and useless Scottish skin!!!

Now I am back in the country and have thrown myself back into the lab trying to find my feet for the next set of laboratory work and my PhD project, after first struggling with jetlag for 3 days (didn’t think it would happen to me but not as special as I thought haha). The conference has given me a chance to reflect on my progress to date and I am keen to get on with the next stage.

I hope you are all presenting your work to the scientific community, and if you aren’t I really encourage you to get it out there. You honestly will learn so much from other clever scientists!

Thanks for reading!

Until next time.

X


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February Failures :(

After a terribly bluesy January I am finally back to normal and working away like every other scientist: labouring everyday but yielding very little fruits!

After collecting my samples for sequencing I discovered I had achieved exemplary quality yet insufficient quantity. This means I have to perform an additional amplification step which not only pushes back my plans but means I have the added stress of adjusting the focus of my talk at the upcoming SRI conference in Orlando, Florida (more on that later!). Currently I am waiting for the kit to arrive so there is a big fat pause on that work, this is something that has shed tears from my eyes…

crying

Similarly, for a different aspect of my project I wanted to try a functional assay developed by colleagues in the Centre for Regenerative Medicine with cells of my own, a really exciting experiment which would complement work I have so far. However as you would expect this did not work as beautifully as I had hoped and a month of preparation was down the drain… yet more tears shed!

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This PhD is showing me I am not best suited to constant disappointment.

So February hasn’t been the most positive month in terms of the lab but in amongst these failures a compassionate colleague said ‘Try not to let this get you down. Why don’t you write down everything you have learnt by doing this experiment as opposed to the results obtained, and then write down everything you need to investigate further or change in order to make it better’. This was enlightening and once again reminded me of the importance of our negative results! To add to that, optimisations are all equally important to positive results when it comes to writing the thesis so… head is screwed back on, emotions are tucked away, acceptance that science never goes to plan reinforced and I am ready to continue.

On a more positive note I am off to Orlando in March to attend the Annual Conference for the Society for Reproductive Investigation (SRI). For this I have a poster to prepare on my work on inflammatory cells in endometrial repair, and I also have talk to prepare on my work with progenitor cells in the endometrium. This will be the ‘biggest’ talk I have ever done, lasting 30mins in a conference of over 1000 attendees… safe to say I am extremely nervous! But I am making sure I am organised by preparing my work weeks in advance giving me plenty of time for refinement and practise… plus the hotel looks gorgeous and I have never been to America so that part makes me really excited indeed!

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This month I also had to submit my 22month (2nd Year) Report in preparation for my second Thesis Committee Meeting. It was a good opportunity to collate all my results to date and review the progress that I have made since the 1st Year Report, sometimes you don’t realise how far you have come until you sit down and look through everything- definitely an important exercise of self-praise (not too much don’t worry)!

And outside the lab I have actually spent quite a lot of evenings writing and working but in amongst that I attended a Disney princess themed pub quiz. This promised a costume prize and so I dug out my 21st Belle dress, my sister was Pocahontas, her friend was sadness and my pal Stefan was Bruce the Shark!!!

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We glamorously entered the ‘Three Sisters’ pub only to realise no-one else had dressed up and the organisers hadn’t realised they had advertised a prize. One of us would have won if there had been one so we were happy with that. We came 4th in the quiz and left scolding ourselves for the silly mistakes and hiding embarrassed faces at the extent of our costumes!!!

My sisters and I have also started a new venture whereby we are hosting themed club nights on a monthly basis with the idea that people attend in costume and basically have a party in a decorated venue with the chance to win a costume prize (like Halloween but all year round). Our name is ‘GLADRAGS’ and we hosted the first one on the 17th February to celebrate Valentine’s weekend with the theme of love and lust at the ‘Moulin Rouge’.

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It was a great success and really fun to organise and we are already planning for the next one. Have a look at the pics and see what you think 😀 Maybe you will attend the ‘Night at the Circus’ in March!

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So until next time,

 

XXX


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Happy January Blues Everyone!

Welcome back to reality everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas break with plenty of festive food, family time and relaxation. I had a very busy holiday at home celebrating Christmas and the arrival of Santa Clause with my beautiful nieces, there are now three as my clever big sister laboured out her third daughter on the 16th of December… a beautiful little bundle called Arietty who is, may I add, my Goddaughter (very proud). I spent two weeks with my family appreciating all the comforts home has to offer and then celebrating the coming of the New Year in a way only us Kirkwoods know how… with a huge party including a sit down meal, highland dancing, a competitive (and rather aggressive) game of Pictionary, beautiful fireworks, drinking whiskey and other delights and of course partying into the early hours of the next day. It was a lot of fun and just what I needed after working so hard last year!

I came back to Edinburgh on the 4th for the Fertility 2017 conference in which I had a poster to present based on my work in endometrial progenitor cells. It was the first time I was presenting this work and offered a great opportunity to discuss and hear views on it. Many people were really enthusiastic and I had some valuable conversations enlightening me to new ideas for my work. That, my friends, is what conferences are for 😀

Following this I took a further week off to flit away to Val Thorens in France for an unforgettable skiing holiday with my boyfriend Andy and 6 of his friends… that’s right I was on a LADS holiday! Although you may think this sounds dreadful it was actually great fun, and it turns out I am perhaps more of a LAD than Andy’s friends haha.

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We skied all week and even went down the longest toboggan run in Europe, a 6km high speed, adrenalin fuelled sledge race which was phenomenal. Our beautiful apartment was a duplex and in the building we had a pool, sauna and steam room which was perfect for relaxing in after a day on the slopes! In all it was FANTASTIC!!!

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val-t-3

All in all I loved my wintery break but this meant that when I returned to the Lab I had a serious case of January Blues. I am sure many of you experienced it too but I honestly found it so difficult to get back into lab life and my work. Luckily I have a really supportive lab group (many of whom were probably feeling the blues too!) who assured me to take it slow and ease back into the work and I would be fine…They were right!!!!

I spent the rest of January preparing for and collecting samples for an exciting Sequencing project I am doing. RNA Sequencing is used to analyse the transcriptome in cells of interest and examine the upregulation or downregulation of specific genes in different experimental samples. This knowledge allows me to dissect endometrial repair process in much more detail and will hopefully open the door to a whole new set of experimentation! It has taken me a long time to get to this point but I have finally optimised every step to gain the most suitable samples for this application and I am excited to proceed!

In other Lab news Bianca form my lab returned from her new post doc position in Berlin to sit and PASS her VIVA 😀 What a clever cookie! It was so lovely to see her again and it definitely didn’t feel like she had been away for 4 months already. In a similar vein, Jenni from the Rossi lab also passed her VIVA and so we all went out to celebrate their success ad toast to their bright futures: WELL DONE GIRLS YOU MAKE IT LOOOK SO EASY 😀 Very proud to have such clever friends.

And finally, in an attempt to really chase away that January feeling, my little sister and her flatmates hosted a January Blues party which was really fun and really did chase away the residual blues!

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My advice at this point is: do not worry if you are struggling with enthusiasm after you come back from an AMAZING holiday, just accept it may take a week of little expectation and use this time to plan for the next few weeks of productivity!

 

Battle on my lovelies…

 

XXX