Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Taiwan Day - I'm really not counting anymore.

I just got internet access for the first time in a few days. While I've been writing for the entire time, I've not been able to post. Even after tonight, I'll still probably not be caught up.

Research results from Week 2:

Rutin extraction, purification, and TLC
  • With Dr. Cheng at the Chinese Medical University
  • Rutin extracted via hot methanol from pagoda tree flowers (latin?)
  • Active component (Rutinose) strengthens blood vessels, while the rest functions as an anti-uretic
  • Took a long time to recrystalize and even longer to dry.
  • Ended up getting multiple grams of solid sample.
  • Made a new friend, Tsai. You can see his account in the followers list, from my conversation with him he's much smarter than me and also doing some really interesting work with genetic engineering and mushrooms. His group is attempting to increase the production of a medicinally significant protein inside of a mushroom. Actually, it's exactly the kind of project that I would eventually like to be a part of some day, mixing both clinical and traditional medicine.
Preliminary chemical survey of compounds from Chinese Medical University with Dr. Liu at Tunghai University
  • 10 compounds with two positive controls and one negative control.
  • No conclusive results, may have to redo the survey
  • Recieved 20 more compounds to survey
  • Found out that Dr. Liu is one of the most well-organized and helpful women alive.
Anti-AA cd/ciELISA with Dr. Yu at Zhongshan Medical University
  • First day: observed the protocols done by the wonderful laboratory assistant, Jim.
  • Second day: attempted the protocols observed yesterday with varying degree of success.
    • On the whole, everyone was able to get acceptable results, given some tweaking.
    • There were only a few moments where Jim looked worried about our well-being.
Anti-AA immunohistochemistry staining with Dr. Liu at Tunghai University
  • Protocol was actually carried out very well, considering the trouble Kenna and I have had in the past and it being Kenna's first time. Normally a large number of embryos are lost amongst all of the washes and pippetting, we only lost a couple.
  • Strange results, we'll have to repeat them.
    • Anti-AA Ab's appear to have stained the heart, a ring of cells in the tail, and parts of the eye. The MF-20 embryos did not stain very well for some reason, which is strange because they normally do. It is strange, and we're not sure what is going on with some of the stains. Hopefully we'll get access to a section and the equipment we need to redo the experiment, either during the last week or even after we get back. Either way, this work was the main reason we came to Taiwan, so if nothing else gets done in the near future, this project will be.
Most of this week was spent in one of the three different labs that we were working in. It was fun, but also exhausting. Having to travel to and from all the different work spaces and the difficulties of scientific discussion with sizable language barrier did a fantastic job of zapping all of my available energy. How tuckered out I was at the end of the day was probably exasperated by staying up late so that I could talk with my fiance. Luckily, I should be done with that kind of nonsense in two weeks, so if I can just withstand being a zombie for a couple more weeks I'll be fine. I'm pretty sure that once I get home from the airport, I'm going to hug my bride to be and then bury myself with covers and Nyquil for a week.

When I haven't felt like a drooling automaton, I've been trying to talk with some of the researchers and professors we've been sharing labs with. As I'm only capable of pidgin Chinese, the amount of information I've been able to extract from the conversations has fluctuated wildly. With some of the conversations I've had, it was an accomplishment just to get names exchanged. Others, particularly Drs. Yu and Liu, have been more accomodating. Another area I've had issues in when talking with people here has been that we're not sure what to talk about. I'm not sure, but I think that a lot of it has to do with not understanding the language in addition to the fact that we're not graduate students. On top of that, it's really hard for me to try and pry out what people are interested in. I think that if I were a better conversationalist, this wouldn't be such an issue, but right now the awkward sileces area little too prevalent. One thing is for certain, next year someone on the trip besides Dr. Huang needs to understand Chinese. Otherwise, we need to bring balloon animals to explain our ideas better.

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