We have all heard that research is about things not working. How you cope with it, however, is a completely different issue. Wise (wo)men say that the key to coping is patience. This is in no way a simple instruction because “patience” is one of the trickiest words with a diverse range of definitions. Journey of an experimenter is to travel from one end of the spectrum of definitions to the other end – from patiently standing in Walmart checkout counter to staring at the microscope for 6 hours.
For the last two weeks, I have been training to be a patient experimenter at Washington University School of Medicine where my routine has been as follows: making solutions –> setting up the HEK cell setup –> changing few objectives to seal on a cell –> making a whole cell patch –> finding out the GABA receptors have not been expressed –> repeat.
This infinite loop finally ended today. Today was the day I became disloyal to HEKs – my companion for the last two years – and moved on to oocytes. Reason for this unfaithfulness?
1) They are big (10^3 times larger in diameter than HEK 293 cell line)
2) They have large current (10^6 times larger than HEK 293)
3) The rig is easier to handle
An incidental benefit is getting to sketch in the lab notebook.