I am a Physiology and Public Health major and am currently working on developing novel drug therapies for the parasite Giardia lamblia. My main objective is focused on creating a library of G. lamblia kinase enzymes that can be used to screen potential drug therapies.
My Giardia kinase enzyme library project is primarily focused around four experiments, PCRs, Chewback/Ligation, Transformation and Protein Purifications. The overall goal of the project is to produce the kinase enzymes needed for the library. These four experiments allow me to take the genes that code for these enzymes and have them be expressed by E. coli cells so that we can produce vast quantities of the enzymes. By doing so, we can use them to test if different drugs inhibit the enzyme’s functionality. Once an enzyme has been isolated, we will send it off for genomic sequencing to confirm that we have the correct target.
I also help with general upkeep around the lab. I ensure we have plenty of agar plates available for cultures, making different types of media that can be used to grow cultures when needed, restocking and autoclaving supplies such as pipette tips, and ensure all biohazardous and non-biohazardous waste is properly disposed of. Something else I do to help keep the lab clean and organized is keeping inventory of our storage spaces and freezers by cataloguing them in an efficient and orderly fashion.
Other lab members will also have me perform enzyme assays and assist in their projects. I help with DNA extractions, gel electrophoresis, and set-up material for animal experiments. I am currently being trained on how to perform thermal shift assays and cytotoxicity assays. These tell us how stable the compounds we are working with are and how toxic they are to mammalian cells, respectively.