Nauseating excuse of the week

16 02 2020

From Michelle, who’s just been presenting in a zebrafish workshop at a conference in Honolulu:

Screenshot 2020-02-16 12.52.13
We’re happy for you Michelle, honestly! (Teeth grinding very very slightly…)


And brains beautiful brains!

11 02 2020

Lindsey’s cytochrome oxidase protocol is finally yielding the goods! So hopefully in the next few weeks she’ll be able to identify regions of the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia that were especially metabolically over- or under-active in our stereotypic mice.



Trees beautiful trees

11 02 2020

Fabulous graphics for feather-damaging parrots (top) and pacing Carnivora (bottom) from the talented Emma:

Parrot treeCarnivore tree



Quotes of the week

7 02 2020

“Kill it tomorrow – but humanely! – from Andrea on Tuesday on my pending interview for directorship of the Campbell Centre.

“Go in from the TOP of the head: the TOP” – from Michelle, really quite adamant about how to extract a zebra fish brain neatly.

Postcard from Tallinn

1 02 2020

Here’s another picture from Estonia, where Maria‘s been continuing her research on this endangered species (and leaving while the UK was still in Europe, coming back to it separated). In a grant application to ASAB she recently described these Euro mink as “non-charismatic”, but I do think that’s a bit harsh. Look!


Cold, rotund, abnormal, male, poorly surviving, enclosed and depressed…

31 01 2020


What about “Cold, abnormal, grumpy, enclosed and depressed“: CAGED?

This is Jamie and I trying to come up with a phrase that captures the likely external validity problems of rodent models, while also being as punchy as the “WEIRD” acronym that so beautifully captured the same concern for human psychology subjects. Oh yes, and it also has to be scientifically accurate, and not ridiculously forced.

So far I’d say we need to go back to the drawing board, and that I, for one, really need to stop giggling.

Screenshot 2020-01-30 21.50.55

Multiplex success!

31 01 2020

Aileen, with help from Niel Karrow‘s able technician Kristen, finally got to use our free new Millipore kit. 

In the bottom image, Aileen explains: “This is the magnet that attracts the ‘beads’ that bind to the cytokines in the assay. Each type of bead only binds with one specific cytokine. When the plate of samples incubated with beads is placed on the magnet, this allows us to wash away other substances, while still holding the beads and cytokines in place. But the way we do this is just flipping it upside down over the sink to get the liquid out. You have to trust that the magnet is doing its job, and you’re not literally pouring thousands of dollars down the drain!”  Augh!



But it DID do its job, and this time detectable TNF-a was present in all of our samples! Most values were still out of range for IL-1B and IL-6, but we’re sending the data to Millipore so they can analyse them with software better able to detect subtle, low level signals through noise.

And then after that, we’ll at last be able to compare the values from our mice from different housing conditions and with varying degrees of inactive-but-awake behaviour (as well as finally knowing for sure which kit to buy next time). Fingers very tightly crossed!