Polymerase Chain Reaction, PCR is a necessary step when working with DNA. Depending on what you are doing you might be doing PCR a lot. Do you like memes? PCR might even take up most of your time in the lab. No time to look at memes. Don’t you wish you could automate the process? This is a walk-through of what is automated PCR setup with memes. You will learn why you should automate your PCR setup and how to do it. Did I mention there are memes?
Let’s say intelligence is your ability to compose poetry, symphonies, do art, math and science. Chimps can’t do any of that, yet we share 99 percent DNA. Everything that we are, that distinguishes us from chimps, emerges from that one-percent difference. -Neil deGrasse Tyson
Ever great article starts with a quote from a famous person right?
Why automate PCR?
- Processes more samples faster (unless you are superman)
- Reduce human error
- Reduce contamination
- Can work 24/7 and doesn’t need to sleep (you can’t unless you’re an actual zombie)
- Allow you to walk away from the bench (which you might want to do unless you’re zombie superman)
While some super fast people can beat the machine setting up PCR in speed (for now) machines don’t need to sleep or eat. Plus every minute you are setting up PCR is one less minute reading current research papers, applying for grants, creating experimental plans, writing papers, or looking at memes.
Reduce Human Error
How many times have you gotten unusual result then repeated the process only to find nothing? Welcome to human error. Have you ever been excited to look at results only to see that they are so messed up they are unreadable? Human error.
Contamination the ever-present threat that can ruin your experiment. Microbes grow on almost everything waiting to strike. With their only purpose to throw off your results, they wait patiently. You didn’t even notice touching your face with your glove. Now that glove loaded with microbes goes toward your sterile sample. You aren’t aware of what is about to happen. Touch. Your sample is contaminated. Score: Microbes +1 Scientist 0. Then you wonder why all your experiments aren’t working. You search “How to reduce contamination”. You start reading the article. All of a sudden you are looking at memes. You’re never going to publish this research. You get kicked out of your position. Applying for jobs you talk about your research. No-one understands. The microbes haunt your nightmares. Was it the research? No, it could have saved the world. Was it all the memes you looked at? Of course not. What was it? THE CONTAMINATION.
Downsides to automated PCR setup
There are downsides. What are the cons? If you aren’t using lab automation the lab right now is a gym. Every day you exercise your thumb muscles. They’re ripped. If you start automating processes with robots you won’t be working out your thumbs. You might not be able to wear that thumb bikini as you planned.
Robots taking over the lab
Let me guess, you’re worried about sentient AI taking over the world. It’s a common concern. Relax. The robots haven’t taken over yet, and while we wait for our robot overlords wouldn’t it be great to spend a little less time setting up samples for PCR?
Consider what your budget is for automation.
Talk to your PI. PIs are money machines right?
If you are the PI apply for grants. You aren’t ATMs, you’re a valuable member of the lab, providing important mentorship to students. Your collective wisdom has helped a generation of scientists in your specific field. You’re a hero, a mentor, a teacher, that sometimes writes grants and has a large sack of money that grabby students ask for.
Just so you know, the VERSA series are affordable, competitively priced automated liquid handlers.
Take away message
Memes are cool. Wait that can’t be the message. Automating PCR saves time, reduces human error, reduces contamination, and allows you to walk away from the machine. VERSA is a line of automated liquid handlers that can setup samples for PCR. Software for automated liquid handlers can be customized to your specific protocol and is easy to learn so you can make adjustments to what the robot does if your protocol changes. Oh yeah and memes are cool.
As long as there is an AI shortcoming in any such area of endeavor, skeptics will point to that area as an inherent bastion of permanent human superiority over the capabilities of our own creations. This book will argue, however, that within several decades information-based technologies will encompass all human knowledge and proficiency, ultimately including the pattern-recognition powers, problem-solving skills, and emotional and moral intelligence of the human brain itself.
― Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
Ever great article ends with a quote from a famous person right?