Science In Images: the History of Spacelabs

Back in February, I made the decision to join a Medical Device company, based just outside of Seattle; Spacelabs.

Founded in 1958 by two scientists, the company developed cardiac monitoring and telemetry systems for NASA, which were used to monitor astronauts’ vital signs during the Gemini and Apollo space missions, culminating in Neil Armstrong wearing Spacelabs medical telemetry for the first moon landing in 1969.

That technology was the beginning of the equipment that Spacelabs makes today, focusing on patient care in the monitoring and cardiology space.

As with all jobs, it has its problems, but I feel lucky to get to work on innovative equipment that saves lives.


Content reproduced from Spacelabs Healthcare

Science in Images: WIB Seattle Be Your Own Advocate and Build Allies for Career Success

For Women’s History Month, WIB Seattle took on the topic of Advocating for Ourselves, and how we can all build our careers into something we truly love. 

Executive coach Hien DeYoung led participants through an inspirational workshop, utilizing real-life examples to solve the challenges we face in our everyday careers.

Trying to get to where we want to be can often seem a like daunting task. A lack of natural negotiating skills, insecurity, and self-doubt can all contribute to holding us back in our work lives. So how do we get the courage to ask for the things we really want, and how do we get the things we really need?

In a step-by-step process, Hien explored Advocacy, and How we can Advocate for Ourselves.


Advocacy; Any ACTION that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of self or others.
-Alliance For Justice


The ability to advocate for ourselves, and for others, can build self-confidence and will open doors to new career opportunities. Having the courage to express yourself in a constructive though way can be difficult, so where do we start?

The first, and possibly the most important take-home message of the night was this;

 “Believe You Deserve What You Are Asking For

No matter what scenario you find yourself in, or where your ambitions may take you, ultimately your career is your responsibility: there is no other person who can speak for you in this matter. Being able to pragmatically look at the bigger picture (Hien calls this ‘getting up on the balcony.’) and assessing what it is you want, how it can benefit your employer, and how it will effect others is the first step to success.


The Game Plan.
Formulating a game plan for self-advocacy at work is as simple as answering a few basic questions. When put together though, they form a strong basis for getting what you want, and negotiating even when you often find it daunting.

The Questions.

  1. What do you want, and why do you want it?
  2. What does the employer need right now?
  3. How do your needs align?
  4. How does your request help other employees, or your team?
  5. What good reasons are there to say no?
  6. Who could support you in this?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you’re in a much better place for advancing in the way you want. The final piece of the puzzle? Know your audience.


Know Your Audience.
Is your boss data driven? Are they a team player? Do they care about the bottom line? Knowing the answer to these questions will change how you approach self-advocacy. If your boss really cares about profits, really lean-in to how your need could advance the business long term. If they care about the team,  tell them how it will help develop other employees. No matter what drives them, make sure to speak to it as it will give you a better chance of success.

Keep Emotions Out of It.
When we let emotions take the driving seat, we lose our control of the situation. If you are angry or upset you are in a weaker place to negotiate, and no matter how well devised your game plan you will be less effective. Take the time to settle your emotions first, and get your head into the right space to think clearly.

And if your caught by surprise by your emotions? Stay silent! Hien shared a wonderful story about such a time.

At the time she was angry and upset, and the employee who was responsible wanted to meet. When faced by her emotions, she didn’t lose her temper (as she would have been justified to do) and instead she just sat there in silence, looking at the other party. By controlling her emotions, and not letting them control her, she gained the power in that meeting. And as a result? She was respected by that party moving forwards. So the old adage stays true, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.


And to go full circle?

The most important bit of advice for getting what you want?

Believe You Deserve What You Are Asking For! 

Confidence is everything!


if you’re interested in Women in Bio, or want to get more information, check out the website or register for our next event!

A huge Thank You to Hien for delivering such a powerful evening, and supporting all that Women in Bio does. Women in Bio succeeds because of the support of our community, and its members.

 

Science in Images: WIB, Seattle Business Casual Event

The WIB, Seattle “Your guide to Business Casual” event was a hit, with many of Seattle’s best and brightest scientists turning out for the evening. Featuring presentations from Eileen Fisher, Kendra Scott and MAC cosmetics, the event covered all the basics of creating a work-ready wardrobe.

Here are some of the tips that stood out.

Create a Capsule:
At Eileen Fisher, the emphasis was on creating a work wardrobe that really did all the hard work for you. By starting with 3 basic items (pants, dress, camisole) you had the foundation to build any outfit on top of. Simply pair a soft sweatshirt with the boxy shell and black pant, to create a laid-back at-the-bench work look, or swap it out for a soft blazer, to be boardroom ready. The same goes with the tank dress. Flattering on all figures, it can be paired with a smart shirt for a business event, or a loose knit for comfort whilst still looking professional. The emphasis here really is that less is more.

  

Keep it Simple:
At Kendra Scott, we talked about elevating an outfit without going OTT. The answer? Layers. By using multiple simple pieces, think delicate chains and pendants, you can create a layered look that still keeps it professional. An easy way to dress an outfit up or down. And why stop with necklaces? Layering clean bracelets, or stacking rings can give and equally dramatic look and finish an outfit.

 

Tone it Down:
My personal favorite presentation was MAC cosmetics. Getting a work make-up look is difficult, and the balance between flawless and too much foundation is very, very real. MAC pointed to keeping it natural. Choose tones that compliment your skin and soft hues. Their top tips? For starters, if possible always opt for concealer over foundation. Apply a small dab to the back of your hand, and apply to necessary areas with a soft brush. Think under the eyes, any blemishes and the nose. Using the brush will help keep excess oil off your skin, and stop you applying too much!

Next add a subtle blush or highlight. Our make-up artist described good blush as “a road-map to the eyes”. Start out just above the cheek and sweep upwards towards the corner of the eye. Just beware, blush should be light and a flattering color.

So to follow that road-map, put focus on the eyes. Our eyes are the key to much of our expression, and when it comes to make-up they give us a unique opportunity to express ourselves. Pair a simple mascara and liner with a pop of your favorite shade at the corner of the eye, for a fun but safe look.

The final piece of advice? Don’t keep old mascara! Mascara is a beautiful breeding ground for bacterial (more here), and one way your eyes are susceptible to infection. If it’s more than 6 months old, throw it away.

And if that all seems like too much information, you can schedule a personal appointment with one of their artists, who will walk you through the whole process!

In summary?
The take-home message from the entire evening- Think Simplicity.

By owning a few key pieces of clothing and jewelry, you can create multiple looks that transform at the swap of a jacket. And when it comes to make-up, keep it light and simple but don’t be afraid to add a bit of personal expression.

Science in Images: ISMRM, Honolulu Hawaii

This years ISMRM meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii has been a roaring success for the MSU MCIL team.

With 4 oral presentations, a study group presentation and award, as well as an award for scientific merit, the MSU Radiology department has demonstrated that their research has value on a global scale.


Dr Barbara Blanco Fernández, awarded 1st place in the Molecular and Cellular imaging study group.

The Molecular and Cellular imaging group, a focus group of the ISMRM community, aims to provide an informal atmosphere to discuss the progress, evaluation, and application of molecular and cellular imaging using Magnetic resonance technology.

One highlight of the group is its championing of the exceptional research being performed by it’s junior members. Having delivered both a high impact abstract, as well as an oral presentation as part of the general meeting, Dr Blanco Fernández was selected to present her work on nanoparticles for immunology at the group chapter meeting, being awarded the top prize for research excellence.

The highly competitive and prestigious award was for Barbara’s research highlighting the use of Chitin and Chitin-materials for vaccines and nanocarriers for immunotherapy.


The group also received recognition for its outstanding research in the form of multiple accepted presentations.

Dr Christiane Mallett, presented a poster on her work on using MRI to measure acetaminophen toxicity in the liver.

Prof Erik M Shapiro presented a talk on behalf of Jamal Afridi on his PhD work, investigating Machine learning for intelligent detection of cellular transplants using MRI.

Dr Dorela Shuboni-Mulligan gave presentation on her groundbreaking work, investigating the link between diabetes and dysregulation of OATP transporters.


The final oral presentation and award was presented to myself, for the use of Polymer and Peptides as Theranostic agents. Peptides have been my area of specialty since undergraduate, so getting to apply my knowledge to molecular imaging and cancer therapy was a rewarding challenge for me.

I presented my work on switchable MRI imaging agent, capable of the non-invasive detection of specific cell types for cellular transplants, cancer detection and therapeutic delivery.

The ISMRM recognizes research excellence by awarding high-impact abstracts. Having scored in the top 5% of all submitted abstracts, I was awarded the Summa cum Laude IRMRM merit award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can I get a round of applause for the achievent of all these awesome #WomeninSTEM?

Science in Images: Diversity in Science

Our research lab currently has 8 nationalities, no less than 7 belief systems, and scientific backgrounds that range from chemistry to computer science. 


We are all very different, and at a time where discrimination based on difference is sadly a normal, it is important that I say that it is our variation that makes us successful and allows us to thrive as a research group.

Diversity in the workplace has been at the forefront of socioeconomic issues for many years. Increasing globalisation means that interactions with differing backgrounds are common place: insular populations are no longer the standard and people are part of a global economy.

Many see this paradigm shift as something to fear, that somehow embracing multiculturalism will diminish and devalue their own values and threaten their beliefs. There are many issues with globalisation that we should be wary of, but this is not one of them.

Exposure to a range of ideas allows us to form more balanced views on the world, ultimately leading to a decrease in in-built bias. The presence of a range of diverse perspectives also allows a groups to form much broader ideas, including perspectives individuals alone wouldn’t have considered. When this is viewed altogether, the society that is built from variation is one of increased respect and understanding.

In the context of research then, it is easy to see why a diverse cultural and scientific group can achieve more together than each individual could alone.

Working with those unlike ourselves offers us an untapped resource of knowledge, and challenges us even more so to validate those methodologies and understandings we base much of our research on.

Science in Images: Melanoma Cells

Over the last few days I’ve been struggling about what to post. America, as well as the world, has been engulfed in the post-election fall out and I don’t need to tell anyone how to feel about it. I’ve chosen instead to focus on positive things, so here is a picture from one of my many current projects.

These are B16/F10 cells, or melanoma. With these cells our lab is trying to specifically target cancer, allowing us to treat locally.

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Cells can be influenced by external stimuli: receptors at the surface of a cell (built into its cell membrane) can act by receiving (binding to) extracellular molecules. I like to think of these as tiny code-lock doors. If we know the code, we can engineering a material to have the code inbuilt, allowing us to specifically interact with only those cells. Targeted treatment in this way would allow many patients to live better, longer lives.

Currently the therapeutic option for many patients, especially post-tumour removal, is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy has many side-effects; hair loss, weight loss,  nausea, vomiting, fatigue, as well as issues with drug resistance. By utilising cell surface receptors and only targeting the cells we wish destroy, we can make treatment more effective, less invasive and improve the quality of life for many.

There’s a lot of work to do before such therapy will be clinically available but every day, and every bit of research takes us closer. I, like many others, do this work because I want to help people, all people, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on.

 

Science in Images: Tissue Mimics

If you ask most people, they have an opinion on the use of animals in research. Despite the need for animals in some situations, there are many scenarios where viable alternatives do exist.

Imaged below are hydrogels: soft-solids consisting of over 90% water. Hydrogels are already heavily utilised in research, from tissue engineering to drug delivery.

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Hydrogels are great candidates for tissue mimics and in turn, the replacement of animals in some experiments. The properties of the gel can be individually tailored and designed such that the strength, charge and other characteristics are similar to a tissue sample.

In this case the hydogel is comprised of agarose, a polysacharide (carbohydrate), whose long chains make up the framework around which the water resides.

Hydrogels with similar properties to brain tissue were fabricated and used to test a large number of MRI contrast agents: the final therapeutic use is as an agent for labelling stem cells, for implantation into the brain, for cell therapy.

For cellular therapy to be effective, we need to know if cells remain in the correct location and are performing the correct function. One way to do is to label them before implantation, so we can image them with an MRI.

Samples of contrast agent are prepared and injected into the gel, before they are imaged. By using hydogels in this way, we can test many combinations of contrast agents quickly, cost-effectively and without the use of animals.

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Science in Images: Fluorescent Staining of Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Mouse mesenchymal stem cells, incubated with polymer nanoparticles encapsulating the dye coumarin_6 (green) and the enzyme Cellulase (red).

Cells are incubated in chambers on a glass slide. During incubation endocytosis occurs: cells uptake the nanoparticles into them.

Cells have a mass of surface receptors, which can allow for very specific uptake. The uptake of nanoparticles by cells in this way can have huge implications for medical treatments, such directed chemotherapy.

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After the cells have been incubated for around 24 hours, they are fixed and stained with further dyes, so the cytoskeleton (purple) and the nucleus (blue) of the cell can be seen. The first image shows a low magnification of the cells.

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The next image is a Z-stack confocal image. In other words, multiple images of the cell were taken at different spacing in the Z-direction, to get slices throughout the cell. The Centre image shows the XY direction, or the cell parallel to the glass slide. The images below and beside this show the ZY and the ZX of the cell, or the perpendicular directions. What we can see using this technique is exactly where both the nanoparticles and the enzyme are within the cell.

Science in Images: Prussian Blue Staining

Rat mesenchymal stem cells, extracted from bone marrow, and labelled with Iron Oxide nanoparticles, before re-implantation. The image shows a section of the brain, stained with Eosin (pink) and then Prussian blue (blue/purple).

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Prussian blue is a common histology stain; used to detect the presence of iron. The stain uses solutions of potassium ferrocyanide and hydrochloric acid to stain tissue. Iron deposits are then stained as blue or purple.