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How has neuroimaging continued and flourished during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Season 1, Ep. 11

In this episode, I speak to Michelle Itano, Director of the Neuroscience Center Microscopy Core at UNC-Chapel Hill and recent addition to the BioTechniques Editorial Board, about her work at the core. Michelle outlines how she has modified the core to make it possible for imaging research to continue throughout the pandemic, using a combination of specialist users and remote working techniques. Michelle provides her key learnings, from this process and last 7months, in keeping the core and her labs COVID-secure.


We discuss some of the projects that have been able to continue throughout the pandemic and the recent successes of an autism trial, which provides key information on the behavioral effects, diagnosis prediction of the condition. Michell also informs me of the work the core has been involved in that directly address COVID-19, using resonance scanning to examine epithelial organoids and cell models, elucidating the utility of resonance scanning in the study of 3D structures.


Episode image created by Damaris Lorenzo of the Lorenzo Lab at the UNC Microscopy Core



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3/25/2021

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Season 2, Ep. 4
Returning to the contentious topic of the Reproducibility crisis –the inability of many study results to be replicated by different research groups or labs –this episode, supported by Zymo Research, zeros in on the topic within the field of microbiomics. Speaking to me about the topic is Raul Cano, Chief Scientific Officer at the BioCollective. Raul discusses the crisis and explains why it is prevalent in the emerging field of microbiomics before taking a look at the key role that microbiomics is beginning to play in the field of diagnostics, and how – if we make changes now – lasting improvements can be made in the field. Raul also lays out the three key areas that are holding back reproducibility in microbiomics and explains the actions that can be taken to improve the situation.Contents:Introduction: 00:00-02:00Explaining the reproducibility crisis: 02:00-02:55How microbiomics compare to other fields in terms of reproducibility: 02:55-04:05Challenges in reproducibility specific to microbiomics: 04:05-05:45The importance of reproducibility in microbiomics: 05:45-07:00Microbiomics in diagnostics: 07:00-10:00 Three key causes of poor reproducibility in microbiomics: 10:00-11:30Is detailed documentation improving in the life sciences? 11:30- 13:00Actions that can improve reproducibility: 13:00-14:15Fecal references: 14:15-16:05The realities of preparing fecal references: 16:05-18:1 5The reception to the new fecal references: 18:15-20:35References vs Standards: 20:35-22:15Standardizing microbiomics data: 22:15-23:20Assessing reproducibility in previous studies: 23:20-25:15Dreams for reproducibility in microbiomics: 25:15-26:55 This episode is supported by Zymo Research. If you would like more information about the fecal reference mentioned in the podcast, you can visit the product page here.
2/18/2021

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