This blog is organized in reverse order...from the oldest post to the newest.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Testing has begun on several of the variations of the parasite. I have not been able to become involved in the testing of the effects the parasite has, but I do get a vague report of results.

So far, five of the initial variations have been scrapped. Either the parasites didn't survive, or they had no effect, or they had effects that were not desirable. Part of me wants to be there for the observation of what the parasite will do to a living creature, but the other part of me is a softie, and would probably feel sorry for the lab rats.

What will happen now is that the 3 variations that were not scrapped will be modified further. I think they will be trying a few completely new variations as well, and word is that one alternative to just the gene manipulation is to actually attempt to give the parasite some of the same genetic structures as a virus. That could be interesting.

Either way, I don't see myself ever becoming bored with this. I'm not sure any intern has ever been so eager to get up at the crack of dawn everyday to get to a lab and work. I'll keep everyone posted when the new variations are presented.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I apologize for how long it's been since I posted. A lot has happened, and when I came back to update, I had to delete a lot of comments. Apparently, it is still held as a belief that what is being done at the lab is somehow a direct insult to God or Allah or whichever Creator you believe I have offended. Even if some of the comments were not what you would call civil, I will respond to them with how I reconcile my beliefs and my work.

I believe in a Creator. I'm not going into details, everyone is allowed to believe what they want. But my belief is that whatever Creator put us here gave us the ability and these tools to do what we are doing. This is an effort to move His creations forward, to help them. I don't see any wrong in that. I understand this is a controversial subject, messing with the very ingredients that make up every living creature. However, it's being done to help us along to the day that sicknesses and suffering no longer plague us.

Modifying genes, even in parasites, to do something beneficial is nothing all that new. Look up the Phorid flies. They are basically a parasite that was already in existence, but changed to keep the population of fire ants in the U.S. under control. If you think that is messing with nature or going against the wishes of a Creator, please realize that the fire ants were not indigenous to the area, and were accidentally introduced by humans. It messed up the ecosystem, and it was the fault of man, so isn't it man's responsibility to correct his mistake? So we are.

This is all I am going to say on the subject. I will immediately delete any posts having to do with this debate, whether it's for it or against it. This was not the reason I created this blog. I want to share the experience and knowledge I gain, and if that is what you came here for, then by all means, thank you.

It is early in the morning and I have to leave. I wish I had enough time to go into the updates, but that will have to wait until I get home.

Again, thank you.

Friday, September 26, 2008


First round of modifications. Not to bore anyone with specifics, but the goal seems to be what I was thinking it was. To change the effects that a parasite has on it's host, to make it less harmful. The project is a little more compartmentalized than I had hoped, there supposedly won't be much information exchanged between the team that is observing the results of the parasites on subjects and the team doing the actual gene modification. Since I am on the genetic engineering side, I may not know what the actual results of the modified parasites is on the test subjects, I will only know if they were labeled as successful or not.

Either way, I am still excited. There were 4 different modifications done to 2 different species. As far as I know, these were changes made that are thought to alter amino acid secretion and reproduction.

I would name my new babies, but there are a few hundred of them. However, I have decided to name the modified groups. So far the labels are basically which genes were isolated for modification on which species. The eight variations we have are all seemingly random numbers and letters that coordinate with certain spots on the genetic code of different species that were mapped out prior. Since they are confusing to even me, I'm trying to turn them into legible words.

Variation TA2DO9 looks like TAZDOG. So that's the TAZDOG variation. Very imaginative, I know.

So far, we have:

JR39C - Junior (JR) Variation
G1GR - GEIGER Variation
V10LA - VIOLA Variation
S33DS5 - SEEDS Variation
WN7R - WINTER Variation
D0RS5 - DOORS Variation
A1R0W - ARROW Variation

Even I am aware of how lonely and pathetic it makes me sound to list out the names I created from the labels. Wow.

Oh well, I enjoy it, and I hope at the very least, this turns out to be education or entertainment for some people.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Hello, again. I've had a couple of comments come in asking me to prove that I am not making this up. To them, I have this to say: No.

I already said that I signed NDAs and that I was not able to go into full detail about everything. I love the idea of writing a blog and letting anyone who is interested follow. I would have loved to have found something like this earlier, I still would. But I love my job more, and I am not going to blow that because of a few jaded internet people. I honestly apologize.

What I can tell you about the project, though, is still pretty interesting. The lab was hired by a pretty prolific private company that specializes in health and medicine. I can imagine that they, in turn, were hired by someone else like a pharmaceutical company or health department, to come up with a product. It's our job to help them design that product. I think.

What we have right now are several species of protozoan parasites. These little guys will be getting a bit of genetic engineering, some of their genes turned on or off, depending, and then another group of scientists will be recording the effects of the modifications. Where do I fit into this?

I make sure that the newly altered baby parasites are kept alive until the scientists can observe them and record the effects. It's not my dream job yet, but it's pretty close.

The actual controls have been laid out already, meaning that the genetic modifications are green lighted for next week. With the short reproduction time of these parasites, hopefully it won't be too long after that, I will have more information for anyone interested.

Thanks for the comments.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Quick lesson.

Hello again. I thought I should throw in a quick lesson on parasites before I get to the good stuff.

Bear in mind that I am not a teacher, but I probably do know more about parasites than the average person would even want to know, so here goes.

The definition of a parasite is: An organism that lives in or on and takes its nourishment from another organism. A parasite cannot live independently. There are thousands of different parasites, and fungi and bacteria can fall within that definition as well. The two main types are protozoan parasites (which are tiny and microscopic) and helminths (which are worms.) There are also carriers, called vectors, but I’m not getting into that right now.

What is important to know about parasites for what I am doing at work is that there are 3 main things most parasites do. They eat, they reproduce, and they secrete. One or more of those three things is what is harmful to the host. They might eat cells that are vital to the host, like the human brain parasite Naegleria fowleri. Or, the reproduction might be what hurts the host, because the parasite creates cysts to hold the cute little babies in, which cause all kinds of problems. And then there are the secretions. This is parasite poop. It is the waste that is usually toxic to the host, and there are so many examples of parasites that secrete harmful substances that I am not even going to start listing them out.

I am, however, going to introduce you to a little parasite you may already be quite well-acquainted with, although you may not know it. It’s Toxoplasma gondii. This little guy lives in raw meat and cat feces, and makes its way inside a person. It does a whole bunch of nasty stuff in there, but the most interesting part is that it seems that the secretions of this parasite may cause schizophrenia.

To sum it up, this is a parasite that is microscopic, is pretty common, and once it gets into a human body, it poops something that changes the chemical makeup of a person’s brain. It can make them "crazy." And that is just one example.

There are already many kinds of parasites that can invade an animal or insect and changes their behavior. There is a parasitic worm that will make a cricket jump into water and drown itself, so the worm can break out and lay eggs in the water. There is another that will convince an ant to hang from a leaf suicidally to attract a bird to eat it. Having a living organism that can invade a human’s body and then manipulate the behavior of the human is a pretty mind-blowing idea to begin with. If only we could control which behaviors are modified by the parasite and in what way. That is the idea behind the work at the lab.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Hello. I am wondering if anyone is every really even going to read this. I have been told that science is "cool." I still have my serious doubts, though. I was never considered cool, even in all my science nerd glory. But I will try to remain hopeful.

I am one of the few people left that believe it is a bad idea to post all your personal information on the internet, but I will tell you that my name is Sanjeev. I am an American, born in India, and I'm in my mid-twenties. I am currently studying for my Master's degree in microbiology, and therefore have started working at a lab as a technician. That is where the fun starts.

Although I am just a tech/assistant (you would not believe how much paperwork that involves) I am hoping to gain a lot of hands-on experience that is hard to find in Universities.

This past week, a team of biologists, microbiologists, and geneticists have been put together to work on a contracted project the lab just received.I signed enough papers to know that I can't give away too many details about the lab, the employees, or the project, but the lineup is pretty impressive to me.

The subject of the project is supposed to be parasites. That works for me, as parasites were the topic of more than one of my papers. I should find out, in the next few weeks, what my role will be and what the goal of this project is. I will try to update as soon as I know. If I remember.

Until then!