Through their lens: Brian Woo learned the importance of organizing his experiments

This summer we’re sponsoring high school interns in stem cell labs throughout California. We asked those students to contribute to our Instagram photos and YouTube videos about life in the lab, and write about their experiences.

Brian Woo did a stem cell research internship this summer in the laboratory of Jill Helms at Stanford University.

Woo submitted this photo to our #CIRMStemCellLab Instagram feed.

Hi! My name is Brian Woo, and this summer I attended Stanford’s Institutes for Medicine Research program, an eight-week internship program. My lab focused on liposomal-Wnt3a (L-Wnt3a), which has been shown to be a greatly effective therapeutic drug due to its ability to stimulate adult stem cell proliferation and renewal.

Many of the people in my lab studied Wnt3a’s therapeutic potential; however, the project I worked on this summer focused specifically on studying Wnt3a at a molecular level: specifically, I studied how Wnt3a interacted with its two receptors, Frizzled (Fz) and LRP, and how those interactions allowed L-Wnt3a to activate the Wnt signaling pathway

I definitely enjoyed working in a lab environment. One of the aspects that I enjoyed the most about working in a lab was the aura of camaraderie which was extremely helpful especially to me, because I had no idea how to even use a pipette before entering the lab! Everyone in the lab always had a smile on their face, and everyone was extremely willing to answer any questions you might have had and such. For me, I can’t imagine myself working alone, or in an environment where people aren’t friendly; I think that teamwork and collaboration are absolutely essential in order to accomplish just about anything. In terms of challenges… well, let me just start off by saying that I had my (very) fair share of mistakes during the course of my lab internship! I definitely learned the importance of precise measurements and clear thinking: organization is absolutely critical in preventing errors- I remember a time during my internship where I was working with thirty western blot samples, and due to bad organization, I accidentally added the contents of one sample to another, which was not good, to say the least. I learned how to design and execute my own experiments, and the biggest challenge here was definitely the clairvoyant thinking required beforehand in order to execute aforementioned experiments correctly and with as minimal error as possible.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed my experience at Stanford and I hope to continue my work during the school year.

Brian Woo

Brian submitted this video about his experience:

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