Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cancer Cells Continued

With my first job at the Cleveland Clinic, I was sent to the University of Berkeley in Berkeley, California, to learn the techniques of tissue culture and also perform experiments with the staff there. It was beautiful, sunny weather in the month of July, but somewhat cool. I was fresh out of college, young and energetic and eager to learn all that there was. My lodging was an old building, a section of the university reserved for visitors like me, where everything was dark and the ancient steps creeked as I walked up the stairs to my room. Over the course of a few days, the lodging’s old character had revealed a quiet charm that was easily embraced by my receding spirit after a busy day at the lab. I also enjoyed walking the sprawling campus of the university each sunny morning with my female colleague, ogling the beautiful campus buildings and architecture, heading toward our research building.

I remember walking the halls of the science building with my colleague, who proudly told me that several Nobel Prize winners had worked in this very same building. I remember entering the women's restroom in the basement floor of the building and finding a person huddled in their sleeping bag, apparently having slept overnight there. I learned that some experiments were timed so that the researcher needed to remain overnight. This was the dedication I saw over and over again over time from several scientists who were willing to make sacrifices for their research.

Once I learned the tissue culture technique and the cell cycle experiments, I returned back to Cleveland and resumed working in our lab. Our initial experiments were held at NASA's cyclotron in Brookpark, which emitted neutron beams on tumors located on the legs of mice. The idea was that these powerful beams would zoom in on the target without killing the surrounding tissues. We worked with another researcher who came from Massachusetts General Hospital, and would drive 14 hours bringing all his mice with him in his station wagon just for these experiments. It was a multi-institution project, with the Clinic, NASA, and MGH involved in these experiments. The cyclotron had initially been used for other reasons, but when I arrived at this job, they were using it for mice experiments. I also heard at the time that it was being considered for late stage cancer patients who were willing to give neutron therapy a try.

Until next time....

No comments: