A day in the life…

Alkaline denaturation test workstationThe day begins with muted anticipation.  Once each week, veterinarians examine carefully the health of each of the study baboons.   These examinations check of overall health as well as look for physical effects of the study medication.  This hours-long process includes collection of a small amount of blood that is relayed to other scientists who scurry off to a laboratory in an adjacent building.

Each sample is carefully labelled, chilled, and inventoried.  Aliquots are withdrawn over the subsequent hours and days for a variety of different tests.  These procedures are designed to confirm whether the target medication is increasing the proportion of foetal hemoglobin, without ill effects such as increased anemia.

Multiple different laboratory procedures are employed to increase certainty that variability does not confound and disrupt the study.  Individual results could be changed due to instrument alterations,  different actions by the chemist, dietary changes in the subjects, and for unknown and unanticipated reasons.  Last month, one of the study participants temporarily stopped eating the daily medication.  Although interesting and helpful to learn the effects of abrupt discontinuation of the planned therapy, this turn of effects was not an intentional facet of the study design!

Today the results are good.  High fives are rare among research scientists, but sometimes the results are so well aligned that a quiet joy with secret smiles creeps into the laboratory like a comforting blanket.  Today was one of those days.

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