Through their lens: Genevieve de Kervor assess chromosomal irregularities in iPS cells

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.

Genevieve de Kervor worked in the lab of Eric Topol at Scripps Research Institute.

Genevieve de Kervor working in the lab. She submitted this photo through Instagram to CIRM’s #CIRMStemCellLab collection.

I am currently working with Scripps Translational Science Institute as a member of Dr. Eric Topol’s Lab. The primary goal of my portion of the project is to capture images of cells to determine if there are any gross chromosomal abnormalities in the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that have been generated thus far. The secondary goal is to optimize existing protocols for the assay used to do the metaphase spreads. Chromosomal analysis is an important step in validating that the iPSCs generated thus far are indeed stem cells.

At the start of the internship, I was given the opportunity to read existing protocols and scientific papers in order to better understand the importance of both my portion of the project as well as the long term goals laid out.

Then, I learned to count chromosomes of existing iPSC slides on Photoshop. I organized cell line image files on our lab’s shared folder. I counted to make sure that each cell had its full genetic makeup of forty six chromosomes. Many of the metaphase spreads were hard to count as a result of excessive overlap in chromosomes. The challenge of counting the chromosomes reiterated the importance of improving the metaphase spread protocols in order to take decent photos on the microscope. Currently, only 15% of cells are captured in metaphase after completing the protocol which makes it difficult to image adequate numbers of cells. Increasing the numbers of cells in metaphase is an example of an optimization I am seeking to make.

Aside from my specific role in the large scale project, I was able to work with my mentor Lauren on one of the initial steps of the project: isolating cells to use for iPSC derivation. I also helped organize the reagents used in the iPSC project by cataloging lot numbers. Helping others in my lab work on a collective project has provided broader insight on many different aspects of a career in academic research.

I have been able to manage my time and project on my own. Lauren and I laid out the last five weeks of my project and I am in charge of being self-sufficient. I am learning to answer most of my questions on my own and to solve problems. So far, my internship has been an incredible experience. I have enjoyed being immersed in this completely new environment with such welcoming people. Thanks CIRM, I am extremely grateful for this opportunity!

Genevieve de Kervor

Genevieve submitted this video about her experience:

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