Aug 10, 2022 12:00:00 PM       by Kin Leung

6 Lab Hacks to Make Your Life (Science) Easier

When I was in college, I enjoyed reading about Chindogu, which literally means “weird tool” in Japanese. The whole point of Chindogu was to make hilariously “unuseless” objects, somewhat like a tool that you might use, but wouldn’t actually buy because it was so absurd. An example of such absurdity is this Hay Fever Hat, and there are countless others that I would recommend you read and laugh about. Although Chindogu are essentially impractical devices meant for laughs, I got to thinking about how I MacGyver’d through graduate school in repurposing equipment and designing new ways to make my lab life easier even as our funding dwindled. Known affectionately as lab hacks, I’m sure you can find some of these on the internet, but I’ll share some of my favorites here.


Aug 3, 2022 12:00:00 PM       by Kin Leung

In Your Eyes: The Journey Toward Reversing Visual Impairment

Since I’ve been living with it for as long as I can recall, I don’t consider my visual impairment a disability. Unlike the millions of people who require corrective lenses, though, my impairment is much more permanent and far less manageable, but it hasn’t prevented me from enjoying life and participating in physical activities. I thought I’d take this time to talk a bit more about most genetic disorders that affect vision, and what is being done to achieve a better understanding to try to reverse the vision loss.

Jul 29, 2022 12:00:00 PM       by Kin Leung

5 Steps to a Better PCR: A Troubleshooting and Optimization Guide

Ever since Kary Mullis (that crazy guy, may he rest in peace) officially invented the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), an entire generation of molecular biology has exploded across the globe as scientists use PCR for a number of applications, from measuring gene expression to forensics. While the textbook technique is relatively simple, as I (and many other fellow researchers) can attest to from experience, producing an ideal PCR is far more challenging due to multiple factors.

Jul 26, 2022 10:59:14 AM       by Kin Leung

Potential Fraud and the Need For Vigilance in Scientific Review

I will admit that I am not a neuroscientist, having focused my research on immunology and cancer cell biology, but I’ve always been aware of Alzheimer’s Disease and the quest for better treatments and an eventual cure. It is because I am not a neuroscientist that I rely on the word of purported experts in the field who have dedicated their careers to finding these answers. There are various caveats like the level of journal the research is published in, the quality of the images (at least to the naked eye), the number of times the research is cited, and the known reputation of the authors, that help to determine the level of trust one can put into the finding. Yet, we find that some things still might slip through the cracks, and this reminds us that we need to scrutinize data more thoroughly to hold each other accountable and maintain trust in science.

Jul 20, 2022 12:00:00 PM       by Kin Leung

The Myriad Patterns of Inheritance

In another life, I taught high school biology and had a lot of fun doing it. I had my students do the Cell City when we worked with organelles in the cell, and once we got to the genetics unit, we did something fun called Dragon Genetics. In this activity, students would pair up (one was the mommy dragon, the other the daddy dragon) and throw “chromosome” sticks to see what traits they would “pass on” to their theoretical dragon baby. The activity is quite simple once students understood basic Mendelian genetics (and some of the non-Mendelian patterns as well), and even my son was able to draw his own dragon baby when I had him be my guinea pig while he was still in elementary school. (Figure 1) There were some amazingly creative dragons adorning my classroom, and I hope you can share the Dragon Genetics activity with any teacher friends as we discuss non-Mendelian traits and disease here. As we celebrate the beautifully-designed experiments by Gregor Mendel that led to the modern study of genetics and genomics, we might also be reminded that patterns of inheritance, like many things in life, are far from binary.

Jul 18, 2022 11:59:58 AM       by Kin Leung

What to Think About Zinc: An Essential Element for Healthy Living

Perhaps we only think of zinc as the extra element in our coins to keep manufacturing costs down, or as that random clip from the Simpsons about a world without zinc. Aside from thinking it is a wacky sounding word (I did look up the etymology and it is rather appropriate!), we just don’t consider zinc as being all that important. Once the pandemic hit, though, I noted that Costco was marketing their zinc supplements a lot more, and after doing some extra research, I bought some to add to my diet.