This week my lab group and I have outlined how we will divide portions of our paper and are reaching the last few of the high concentration DNA samples that we are responsible for analyzing. Next week, we also plan to reanalyze some troublesome samples. Depending on the strength of their signals under UV light after completing their PCR, we will adjust the amount of DNA we utilize during the restriction enzyme digest portion of the experiment. All in all, we are starting to reach the end of our lab work, and I couldn’t be any more proud of our work and results. In addition, before leaving Taiwan we also plan to prepare a Power Point presentation and our poster for future oral presentations and poster sessions. In addition, Kyle, the master’s student who recently defended his master’s thesis at KMU, allowed us to watch him perform the microinjection technique he utilized to demonstrate how the methylation of the transcription factor FOXA2 causes the metastasis of esophageal cancer cells. For the experiment, he used a zebrafish model, and the skill level needed to perform the procedure correctly without puncturing a zebra fish’s heart is incredible. If this were to occur, then “metastasis” in a resulting photo of the zebrafish would be invalid, as the cancer cells would have not necessarily metastasized, but rather just traveled through the fish’s circulatory system. Did I mention that the zebra fish are only a few millimeters long! It was very interesting to watch this layer of Kyle’s project, especially with the fact that its results can truly verify how the nature of methylation of cancer suppressor genes can affect the spreading of cancer.

Kyle applying an anesthesia-like agent to keep the zebrafish still during the procedure

Zebrafish magnified on camera

Kyle conducting the microinjection procedure. Yes those little lines on the agar are indeed the zebrafish. This takes skill!

Typhoon Ready featuring Sabrina and my roommate Ophine

Another highlight of this week is that Typhoon Nesat came to town. We’ve been hearing about Taiwan’s typhoon season in the summertime ever since we touched down on the island, so there was much talk about this weekend’s upcoming storm. Some of the safety suggestions for the weekend were that we should have enough food in case it was unsafe to go outside, so Carrefore, the local grocery store on Shiquan Road, was packed Friday afternoon. Carts were full of water, noodles, and other non-perishables for the event that power might go out. I survived on fruits, cheese, crackers, and noodles, but all in all I can’t say that our area was affected badly. However, the rain fall did raise some concern for surrounding townships and smaller islands. The weekend and next week’s sky was dark, grey, and ominous for the most part, but our Saturday trip outside was still so much fun. My roommates Siva and Ophine, Sabrina, and I went outside while the storm blew its strong winds and just enjoyed the rain. We were prepared with ponchos and I even had swim shoes at the ready. Running and racing in the heavy rain felt absolutely amazing, but once the conditions began to worsen, we knew it was time to head back to the dorm. Who says that stormy days have to only be spent inside?

Barbecue and Goodbyes

On Monday, many of KMU’s labs had cancelled the day’s tasks, but Sabrina, Javi, and I attended a luncheon to say goodbye to some of Dr. Li’s students, Miao Yi and Kelly, who would be returning home to their hometowns in northern Taiwan for the remainder of the summer. Both Miao Yi and Kelly were so patient and helpful these few weeks as they taught us the procedures necessary to complete our project’s experiments and guided us around Dr. Li’s lab. In our lab, they could practice their English, and we could learn more and more Chinese vocabulary. It was so sad to see them go, but the restaurant we attended surely had the comfort food we needed for the occasion. We ate indoor barbeque and hotpot vegetable soup together. I love everything about food, whether it be smelling it, cooking it, or tasting it, so eating at this restaurant near the Kaohsiung Arena MRT Station was a really engaging experience. We grilled chicken, beef, shellfish, and threw in some fish, shrimp, scallops, cabbage, and mushrooms into our boiling soup. We also enjoyed experimenting with the sauces and seasonings provided. Even more, for dessert we had the opportunity to grill flavored mochi and ate it with cool Häagen-Dazs ice cream. What a meal, and all for $440 NTD or around $14.66 USD! That was one of the most expensive meals I’ve had in Taiwan, but considering that moderately expensive meals in the US can be twice or thrice that price, I have no complaints. Until next week, Indigo