I’ve been in Manchester this week attending the joint European Biological Rhythms Society (EBRS) and World Congress of Chronobiology (WCC). I presented a short communication entitled ‘An hnRNP isoform switch links temperature perception to regulation of the Arabidopsis circadian clock’. It was a wide and varied programme – although plant-clock research was thin on the ground (I was one of only two plant-clock presentations).
The highlight for me though was Michael Menaker’s plenary talk – the ‘grandfather’ of chronobiology research gave an overview of his journey through chronobiology research from when he was a graduate student in the USA the 1950’s. It was interested to hear him say how easy he felt it was to get funding back then – “…you would need to be a real idiot not to get a grant funded back then” and how the money sloshing about then was largely due to the space race. Another nugget of insight was “If you haven’t done any failed experiments, you haven’t tried hard enough”
Another quote that stuck with me was from Ueli Schibler’s Plenary lecture – the quote is, I think, attributed to Bertrand Russell – Mathematician/Philosopher/Writer and Nobel Laureate for Literature in 1950 – when he said “One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important”.
Hi – here’s a fun lab-based representation of the circadian clock! It’s been put together using everyday bits-and-pieces found in the lab, and includes things that oscillate, or cycle, and there’s also a balance to represent clock compensation. There’s also some quite random things to add to the concept of the clock responding to chaos. The sculpture has been developed as part of Ally Wallace’s Art-Science collaboration with the Nimmo lab, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Check out the link, here, for more details.
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I’ve been working with Ally Wallace to develop cartoon-like drawings that illustrate our research – here is some work in progress. I like the lab soundscape in the background. The aim was to develop something that might appeal to a younger audience, and tries to take an imaginative approach to the subject. Maybe a bit too wordy, so I’m now doing much more stripped back drawings – these were all done on an iPad using the ProCreate app. Then again, maybe it would be better as a short pamphlet/book….let’s see.
I was asked the other day if I could explain our research in 45 seconds, and after fumbling about with cumbersome nuggets such as ‘post-transcriptional mechanism’ and ‘spliceosome‘ and ‘exon-intron junctions’ decided it probably needed a drastic change of tact!
Anyway, it struck me that one of the key things to get across about alternative splicing is how important the inclusion (or exclusion) of an exon in a pre-mRNA has on how the mRNA is read or interpreted. If you substitute reading RNA messages with English grammar it reminds me of a funny Panda-related sentence that Hugh introduced me to a while back. It emphasises just how important a comma (or alternate exon, for example) has on the whole interpretation of the message. Compare these two sentences describing Pandas:
Eats shoots and leaves OR Eats, shoots and leaves
Notice how the comma completely changes the whole meaning and interpretation of the statement.
I think that this could be a good way to try to put across the key feature of splicing. Can it be done in 45 secs? Watch this space!
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I suppose ‘It’s About Time’ we actually posted something!
It’s taken us a while but hopefully this is the start of an interesting way to disseminate what we get up to in our labs and provide a sort of diary of our activities.
During the establishment of this blog we’ve talked a lot about how time and seasons seemed to be a huge influence on artists and songwriters (I’ve been introduced to the delights of Fairport Convention & The Incredible String Band, for example) and I’m sure that this will be a subject of future posts – Time and the passage of Time sure seems to get under our skins, no?