I often wonder what it is about cell culture that some people seem to enjoy. I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s okay to dabble now and again, as part of a varied and productive project, when a nice experiment can be performed on a sturdy established cell line to generate another figure of data. But when your modus operandi involves repeated attempts to derive cells upon which informative experiments can be performed, with Groundhog Day dead ends, following endless rounds of plating, feeding, passaging, monitoring, testing and discarding, I fail to find any joy or reward. Couple this frustration with observations of colleagues working on progressive projects and who are leaving you behind in terms of new techniques, and you start to question your role and worth in the scheme of things. Something is wrong here: pleasure is inversely proportional to indolence.
Crikey, that reads pretty negative. So, why don’t I just pack it all in? Well, because I do like the working environment. Academia lumps you in with a variety of interesting people from different places and backgrounds, yielding conversations and insights you’d never get otherwise. It baffles me how many fail to see the benefit of such interaction. It serves as an antidote to the tendency towards bigotry and cynicism that inevitably accompanies the onset of middle-age. It also brings perks. such as landing the occasional invite to a wedding abroad (Ireland last month – thanks Marie; Brazil next May – cheers Rob). And it is good to have colleagues who are quite happy to tell you when they think one of your blog pieces is s###e!
So, when it’s a bad day in the cell culture lab, I can seek solace through an exchange with a good colleague. It beats staying at home and watching daytime TV – what a waste of time that is (sez me!). Now isn’t that positive thinking? I feel better already. Where’s my pipettes?!