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Oncofertility Scientist for a Day

Day 2 with our embedded journalist.


By Kirsten Tellam

I was really excited for my day at the oncofertility lab today– I actually got my hands in a pair of gloves and did some work!

First it was time for follicle isolation. Ovaries are composed of follicles, or aggregates of cells that usually hold a single egg. My job was to put an ovary under a microscope and, using syringes, separate the follicles. This was much more difficult than I thought–it was disconcerting to be moving my hands based on what I was seeing under the microscope and not with my own eyes! I was not a great follicle isolator, that’s for sure.

Courtesy of Huge Galdones

Then I got to encapsulate the follicles, which I had more fun with. Jen put some isolated follicles in alginate, which I then picked up using a pipette and put into a calcium solution. The word she used was “beading”–I dropped a bit of the alginate with the follicle in the shape of a bead into the solution. I successfully moved 7/8, which she said was pretty impressive for a first-timer. If done by someone who actually knows what they’re doing, the bead is then cultured and photographed, but they obviously couldn’t use my work–who knows what I inadvertently did wrong!

I had a great time in the lab today. It was really interesting to see the care and precision with which even the smallest of tasks must be done. And even though I don’t want to see dissections every morning, I did manage to survive without fainting, which I consider a plus!

Up for tomorrow: the social science day. I’ll learn about the history of oncofertility,¬†social science issues, and patient navigation.

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