Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thank you, Addgene, for the award!

A big "Thank You!" to Addgene for giving Andy Maloney and our lab a "Resource Sharing Award!"  The award is a $5,000 donation to our lab that we can use to further our kinesin research.  Very generous and very helpful to our lab.  Big props also to Andy for applying for the award with no help from me!  One more piece of evidence that the students in the lab are much better at grant writing than I am :) 

The award was given to Andy and our lab for our commitment to open science.  This includes open notebook science, open data, sharing protocols, designs, etc.  Andy has been a very impressive open scientist.  It's just a guess, but I'd say so far, probably his biggest impact has been with the very detailed "do it yourself" biology projects he's contributed.  He's absolutely amazing with designing solutions from off-the-shelf components, and equally amazing with using Google Sketchup and photographs to describe the designs to the public. A good example is his microscope objective heater, which was somewhere around $500 and is working very well for our gliding motility assays.

There are now many labs around the world deserving of this award, and it feels really good to receive it.  And I think it was a great contest for Addgene to sponsor.  I actually wasn't aware of Addgene before Andy told me about the contest.  So just learning about them made the effort worthwhile.  I had a great conversation with Melanie Herscovitch on the phone a few weeks ago and she explained to me Addgene's mission and services.  Here's a picture from their website to explain what they do: (used without permission! :) )

In a nutshell, addgene is a non-profit organization dedicated to making it easier for researchers to share and obtain published plasmids.  Authors of papers submit their plasmids to Addgene (either purified DNA or transfected cells, as I understand it).  Readers who would like to obtain the plasmid contact Addgene, and Addgene provides the plasmids for just a cost-recovery fee.  This works out well for all parties.  Without Addgene, it's often a very inconvenient process.  The authors are burdened with keeping track of plasmids that may have fallen out of use.  And researchers requesting the plasmids often face a long delay in obtaining them.  I think Addgene is a wonderful service and I look forward to working with them as we create and publish our own plasmids in the coming years.  I also got the feeling from talking with Melanie that Addgene is a really great place to work.  I don't know whether or how often they're hiring, but you can take a look here for current job openings.

Thanks again, Addgene!  If you're reading this, it'd be great to post a little thank you comment (on friendfeed or the blog) or congratulations to Andy!

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