Most of this week was spent just going through the lab materials and getting access to the lab and the Foege Building, and understanding the workings going on at the lab – who’s who, what’s where and what’s being done.
A number of projects are currently going on at the Folch Lab, all of which are handled by one or at most two researchers who work independently. While this ensures a good mix of different projects and mindsets, it also means there is less flexibility as an artist to have a scientific literacy broker on hand to aid lab processes. There are 2 strategies which i need to work out here : to go with an independent plan, knowing that there might not be as much support as necessary ( this would mean getting up to speed with the literature, protocols and scientific knowledge so as not to look stupid or waste efforts) : or to work with researchers on each of their projects.
I had a chance to talk to and shadow Dr Lisa Folch, who was working on a microfluidics/cancer biology project that involves vibrotome slices taken from a brain tumor in a mouse placed on a 96-well plate interface with stripes that allow for sequential drug tests in orthogonal locations (enabling serial or combinatorial drug delivery). In future, this research attempts to explore an alternative system for patient-specific drug sensitivity profiling in patient-derived organotypic slice cultures(PDSCs) where a slice culture is derived from human glioma stem cell xenografts and then using a microfluidic device, these are fed drugs and markers for cell death and viability. This yields a simple and quantiative imaging readout that permits real-time automated analysis. Their hypothesis is that the microfluidic drug delivery applied to PDSC can provide a robust paradigm to profile patient-specific drug sensitivity responses to specific drugs.
More information can a be found here:
imaging the stains of mouse brain slices in different stains and different reagents. (The bright pink regions are alive and the dark portions are not.. )
Currently the aims of the residency are to multifold and multi layered. This is a draft that still needs to be refined
1. trying to locate possibilities for broad epistemic learning from the process that transcends science as a culture towards it as a way of life or as an intuitive understanding of what life and reality is about.
2. embodied engagement with the tools and research protocols that are endemic to this lab; It’s research and focusses especially on the BAIT brand.
3. critically examining broader institutional tendencies toward “interdisciplinarity” and the efficacy of a humanist strategy towards collaborations between artist and scientist.
4. Making use of the lessons learnt through artistic ‘practice’ to come up with prototypes and aesthetic products which expose a higher or deeper level of understanding of representation, mediation, empathy and above all, elegance.