A Tuesday Note

Mar 16 2010 Published by under Activism

Worry not, Sci is alive at this time. She is merely far more busy than usual. This, too, shall pass.
However, in this time in which there is no crazy neuroscience going on up in here (though I've got some stuff in mind), check this out. It's post over at Isis' place on languages other than English in science. It's an eye-opening post for lots of reasons, but one that caught Sci's eye was this:

We regret to inform that several of the labs belonging to the CGC have been severely damaged by the high magnitude earthquake that affected central and southern Chile last Saturday, Feb, 27th. Specifically, the labs of CGC Director Miguel Allende and Investigators VerĂ³nica Palma and Alvaro Glavic, whose labs are located at the Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, suffered significant damage and loss of equipment and materials. Besides the physical impact caused by falling, there was flooding due to a broken water main which further increased the damage. Losses are estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and work will likely be interrupted for weeks or perhaps longer. More seriously, irreplaceable reagents, stocks, samples and experiments were lost.
A large number of colleagues around the world have offered to help with the replacement of lost equipment and by hosting CGC students in their labs until the situation is normalized. We sincerely thank all of these generous offers for assistance in these difficult times. Anyone wishing to collaborate should coordinate with the Vice-rector for Research at the Universidad de Chile, Dr. Daniel Wolff. We know that efforts are being made in Europe, the US, Japan and Australia already, so it would be ideal to coordinate among the different donating institutions or individuals. We are exploring ways in which to finance transport of such materials and therefore, this should not be a concern to donor institutions or individuals. Please contact Miguel Allende regarding these matters.
To provide an idea of the type of equipment that needs to be replaced, we have compiled a list of the principal items that were lost or seriously damaged (for many, we still don't know the cost of repairing them to determine whether it is worthwhile to do so):
Fluorescence Dissecting scope, (Olympus MVX10 with 4 filter sets, 1X and 2X objectives)
Digital camera for microscopy (Leica DFC300FX)
Zeiss Fluorescence microscope
Laminar flow hood for cell culture
Cell culture CO2 incubator
Inverted microscope for cell culture use
Dissecting scope with teaching oculars (Leica)
3 dissecting scopes for microinjection of embryos
Light sources for dissection microscopes
Tabletop refrigerated centrifuge, rotors OK (Beckman)
Eppendorf Centrifuge
Analytical balance and pH meter
Gel documentation system with digital camera
3 pressure microinjectors (2 MMPI, 1 Narshige) with micromanipulators
Culture flask shaker
PCR machine (Perkin Elmer)
Capillary glass puller (Narshige)
Power supply and gel chambers (agarose and acrylamide)
There is a large number of miscellaneous smaller items that are typical of developmental biology labs, but that are more likely to be replaced locally.
We will try to expand this list to include the needs of the other Chilean developmental biologists that were similarly affected. We are also trying to establish a monetary fund to receive cash donations and we will try to make this information available as soon as possible. For now, it is possible to make cash donations in the U. S. through the Society for Developmental Biology (SDB); contact is Ida Chow. In Europe, coordination is being carried out by Roberto Mayor at UCL, London.

There's more over at Isis', but the pictures are what broke little Sci's heart. That cell culture room made my heart stop.
And it's not just the equipment. It's the grad students that make Sci sad. Months, YEARS of your data, gone like that, things broken beyond repair. It reminded me of a time when we heard about the evacuations surrounding Hurricane Katrina, and the grad students at my uni heard of New Orleans grad students and post-docs filling their cars with reagents and cell cultures instead of clothing, of taking mice and rats in their cars so they wouldn't suffer in the storm. I remember looking at my post-doc at the time, and hearing her say, "someday, that could be us". Right now, it's grad students in Chile, who never had a chance to get their stuff out, and who might even need to start over in foreign labs, with different projects, knowing that an earthquake just added years to their PhD.
We're not all developmental biologists here, obviously. But I know even in neuroscience there are Leica microscopes, analytical balances, pH meters, PCR machines, gel chambers, pullers. Maybe someone just shut down a lab and there's equipment sitting around. Maybe you just replaced your old machine with a new one.
Maybe you could think about seeing if these scientists could use it.

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