I never thought I’d be handling rodents so closely, but lately, my life seems to revolve around them. As mentioned in my previous blog posts, my mentor and I are studying the impact of particular hydrogels on damaged stroke tissue in the brain. This requires administering stroke, hydrogel delivery, putting the mice down, and brain analysis. For the first step, you pick up the mouse by its tail and rest it on your palm to deliver it to a chamber that delivers anesthetics. Once the little one is under, you open up the head, administer the stroke, and drill a hole in the skull where you’ll put the hydrogel. A few days later, you inject the hydrogel, and then you can harvest brains at predetermined time points.
Being at the Segura lab, I’ve observed and performed procedures with both my mentor and other graduate students in the lab. I’ve committed to doing animal studies in the Segura lab, so if there’s nothing to do at the bench, I’ll go shadow someone in the surgery room. Friday, however, was the day the mice were sacrificed, and I watched my mentor perform the “brain harvesting” procedure and even attempted to help—but I’d need a lot more practice with handling surgical tools and trying not to snip organs that we need (which would suck). I’ve also done the brain sectioning at -20 °C and I swear I almost got frostbite (but I didn’t!). I can’t imagine doing surgeries on people, but I guess that’s why we have doctors for that.
I really enjoy working at the Segura lab. I love collaborating with undergrads and learning from graduating students, doing benchwork, and participating in mice surgeries! I can see myself doing this for the next 8 years, so maybe a Ph.D. is somewhere down the line? I guess we’ll see!