Talking Techniques

The latest in the lab updates and life science developments

Welcome to Talking Techniques! In this Podcast BioTechniques Digital Editor Tristan Free, interviews researchers at the forefront of their fields about the latest breakthroughs, controversies and conversations in the lif

COG-UK: sequencing SARS-CoV-2 and detecting the novel variant B.1.1.7

Season 2, Ep. 2
This episode, supported by Tecan, takes a look at the role the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) has played sequencing SARS-CoV-2 and surveying for COVID-19. To do this I speak to two key members of the consortium; Steve Paterson, Professor of genetics at the University of Liverpool and lead for the wastewater working group of COG-UK; and Josh Quick, Future Leaders Fellow at the University of Birmingham and lead at the COG-UK Sequencing working group.Steve discusses some of the techniques required to detect SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, the challenges that such a vibrant sample can present, and gives his account of the part that wastewater surveillance played in the management of the new variant B.1.1.7.Josh provides us with further insight into the technologies used to sequence SARS-CoV-2, explains how he designed the ARTIC protocol for sequencing the virus and why it came to be so widely used. We go on to discuss the issues of limited lab consumables such as pipette tips and how you can make the most out of your limited lab supplies. Josh also describes the bizarre act of serendipity that aided in the discovery of the B.1.1.7 variant.ContentsIntroduction: 00:00-01:30Steve Paterson introduction: 01:30-02:15Introducing COG-UK: 02:15-03:20Becoming the wastewater working group lead: 03:20-04:35Key techniques and essential work in wastewater surveillance: 04:35-08:00Improving the sensitivity of sequencing and technological developments: 08:00-10:00Detecting new variants in wastewater screening: 10:00-12:15Learnings from the pandemic: 12:15-13:40Josh Quick introduction: 14:35-15:32The ARTIC protocol: 15:32-18:35Sequencing working group key techniques and key focuses 18:35-22:00Challenges of limited consumable supply and how to make the most of what you have got 22:00-24:30Learnings from the pandemic: 24:30-26:28New technologies, RC-PCR: 26:28-29:38Fantasy technology to assist with SARS-CoV-2 sequencing: 29:38-31:00Discovering the new variant B.1.17:31:00-33:30Conclusions: 33:30-34:40

The reproducibility crisis: where are we now and how can we progress?

Season 1, Ep. 11
In this episode I address the 'reproducibility crisis'. The concerning trend in the life sciences in which published papers and established principals are unable to be repeated by other researchers and, at times, even by the researchers who provided the initial results. To do this I speak to two researchers driving forward reproducibility in the life sciences, Marc Raphael from the United States Naval Research Laboratory, and Elizabeth Iorns, CEO of Science Exchange. Marc discusses his recent trial of independent verification and validation (IV&V) labs in a live science setting, highlighting the lessons learned from the experience and exploring the differences observed in attitudes and approaches to reproducibility between the life sciences and engineering, where mark began his career. Elizabeth discusses her work with Science Exchange and the reproducibility project: cancer biology. Elizabeth notes the key themes that have been exposed by the reproducibility project that are holding back the resolution of the crisis and explains what she thinks has worked so far in improving reproducibility. This leads to a fascinating discussion between Marc and Elizabeth, comparing and contrasting their experiences and noting the different challenges that they face in trying to improve the state of research in the life sciences. In fact, their camaraderie was so strong that interviewing these two was a real treat and for lots of it, it was much better for me to sit back and watch as they debated a topic that they are both clearly very passionate about!I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed recording this episode!*The Talking Techniques podcast is hosted and produced by Tristan Free for BioTechniques. We would love to here more from our listeners about your opinions on the podcast, what you would like to hear more of and what you think we could do better!Please get in contact on any of the platforms below.Twitter: @TristanFreefsgEmail: