Kevin Martindale – Independent Project

Kevin Martindale – Independent Project

Class of 2017

Introduction to Topic

My project focuses on the topic of Gerontology.   I decided to study the topic of Gerontology because my mother has worked and researched in the National Institute on Aging for 30 years and I finally wanted to understand what she did for a living.  Gerontology fascinates me because everyone ages, but everyone ages differently.  There are some people who can live long and healthier lives, and the science community is beginning to understand how to make everyone live lives that way.  There have been recent developments that show we can prevent old age diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and soon, I believe there will be breakthroughs that will greatly length our lives.

Project Description

I completed my internship at the National Institute on Aging in the John’s Hopkins Bayview Campus in Baltimore working in the Translational Gerontology Branch during the month of July in 2016, During my experience, I was able to work with rat cells through different experiments such as a gel electrophoresis, a MPO kit experiment, taking microscopic images, etc.  After my experience, I have a deeper understanding of the processes of aging and how we can help prevent it.  I created two technology-based innovations to help speed up several processes, such as a gel electrophoresis.  These innovations are a python turtle code and a 3D-printable object that will help with pipetting into a 96-well plate.  Hector and I used a 96-well plate multiple times during my three-week internship and we experienced multiple issues with them while pipetting.  Through the use of my innovations, the percentage of human error while pipetting will be greatly diminished.  

Experience Description

My shadowing experience was completed at the National Institute on Aging in the John’s Hopkins Bayview Campus in Baltimore working in the Translational Gerontology Branch (TGB) lead by Dr. Rafael de Cabo during the last three weeks of July in 2016.  I shadowed for 120 hours, but only journaled 80 hours.  My main mentor was Hector Mora, a Post-Bac in the TGB.  He worked closely with his Post-Doc, Irene Alfaras, so she was my other mentor.  Since I was working in a government facility, I had to complete excess amounts of training and paperwork before I was cleared to work in the TGB.  After completing my training, Hector allowed for me to work closely alongside him in the laboratory on one of his projects – the ARA290 rat project.  This project was looking at how a drug, called ARA290 could possibly lengthen the lives of rats.  This would be done by reducing the inflammation in the rat’s liver cells, increasing the oxidation in the rat’s kidney cells, and much more that Hector has been working on for the past year.  It was very interesting to join an experiment that has been going on for the past year.  

Through my experience, I was able to do very intriguing experiments, some of which we have already done in biomed.  We performed a gel electrophoresis on rat liver cells, kidney cells, and serum cells which allowed for us to see the oxygen levels in rats injected with ARA290 and rats given a placebo.  We discovered that the rats injected with the ARA290 had a statistically significant increase in oxygen levels which would lead for those rats to slightly longer lives.  We were also able to use a high-powered microscopic telescope called the Olympus 1×51, which was amazing.  This was the most interesting observation within my entire experience.  Since I am a technophile, this piece of technology was astonishing to me.  The microscopic images would appear on the computer monitor, while you would move the slide with the samples on it around.  Once the slide was in the correct position you would take an image and be able to quantify that image at a later date.  The images that Hector and I took are found here.  

The most significant piece of knowledge that I was able to take away from this experience was that aging is inevitable, but there are ways that can slow the process along.  Before this internship, I thought that slowing the aging process was some wise tail told so that you would attempt to live a healthier life, but in fact there are scientific discoveries that show how different drugs and/or lifestyles allow people to live a longer and healthier life.  Eventually, through more scientific research, people will be able to live well over 100 years of age with a healthy body.

Innovation Description

The innovations that I created are a python turtle code for regulating pipetting into a 96-well plate and a 3D-printed funnel for a 96-well plate strip.  Although there are also 384-well plates, Hector and I only used the 96-well plate, so I focused my innovations around that.  I decided to make my innovations solely on pipetting into well plates because that was the main problem that I experience while I was shadowing.  The problems that we encountered with the well plate include losing where we were in the plate and accidentally either pipetting into the same well twice, or missing a well entirely and not being able to fit the pipette easily into the well plate without some of the liquid spilling.  

My first innovation was a possible solution to the problem of getting lost in the well plate.  This innovation is a python turtle code.  Python is a computer programming language that allows for the programmer to express concepts in fewer lines of code than more advanced computer programming languages, such as C++ and Java.  The code that I made uses a module called “Turtle”, which allows for the user to create an interactive image through Python.  The code creates an image of a 96-well plate with all of the wells being red and provides instructions on how to use it.  Once the user is done pipetting into a well plate, they would simply click on the well that they just pipetted into and press the spacebar to turn that well green in the image.  This allows for the researcher to easily, but effectively stay on track when pipetting and to never lose their spot in the well plate.  My code can be found here.  This code took well over 10 hours to create because I had to learn python coding before I could make the code.  I started learning python coding in the second quarter of AP Computer Science and we are still learning new features of coding now in the fourth quarter.  The actual creation of this particular code took approximately 15 hours.  The original design of the code took be 6 hours to make, but it did not allow for user interaction.  By the time it took to research how to add interaction into the code and to implement it into my design, another 6 hours had passed by.  Once I had another version of my code completed, I asked Mrs. Capozzoli for feedback on my design.  She said that the circles in my design looked more like ellipses.  Since my home computer renders the Python image in 1080p, while the school computer only render the image in 720p, I needed to change my code to be universal for all computers.  This took the remaining 3 hours.  Since this is a computer code, it has no close competitors or legalities.  

My second innovation was a possible solution to the problem of not being able to fit the pipette easily into the well plate.  This innovation is a 3D-printable well plate funnel strip.  My original design of this 3D model was created in Sketch-Up.  This design only took me one hour to complete and it can be found here.  But, I wanted to showcase the 3D-printer, the Ultimaker 2+, that the Biomedical Sciences program has.  So, I took my design from Sketch-Up, and recreated it in an Autodesk application called Fusion 360.  The Fusion 360 file can be found here.  To recreate my design, I used multiple functions found in Fusion 360.  These functions include sketch, revolve, box, extrude, shell, and combine.  Through these functions, I was able to create 12 – 5 mm long funnels connected to 1 – 1mm strip.  Once my design was finished, I exported the file into another Autodesk application called Print Studio.  The main use I had for this application was to check to see if my design had any geometric errors and if my design needed supports when it was printed.  My designed had no errors nor did it need supports.  Finally, I exported my 3D-model into an application called Cura.  This application is the last computer-based step in the 3D-printing process.  It allowed me to position my design where I wanted it to print in the Ultimaker 2+ and add an adhesion plate so that it would print without failure.  From Cura, I then saved the .gcode file onto the Ultimaker 2+ hard-drive and began the print.  The .gcode file can be found here.  This would be printed using PLA plastic.  Since this design will not be manufactured, it has no competitors and it has no legalities.  If this design were to be used in a laboratory, it would need to be discarded after every use to eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination.  The creation of the design in Fusion 360 took me 6 hours.  The preparation of the design in Print Studio and Cura took me 1 hour, and the actual 3D-print took 30 minutes.   

+ Project Topic

Introduction to Topic

My project focuses on the topic of Gerontology.   I decided to study the topic of Gerontology because my mother has worked and researched in the National Institute on Aging for 30 years and I finally wanted to understand what she did for a living.  Gerontology fascinates me because everyone ages, but everyone ages differently.  There are some people who can live long and healthier lives, and the science community is beginning to understand how to make everyone live lives that way.  There have been recent developments that show we can prevent old age diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and soon, I believe there will be breakthroughs that will greatly length our lives.

+ Project Overview

Project Description

I completed my internship at the National Institute on Aging in the John’s Hopkins Bayview Campus in Baltimore working in the Translational Gerontology Branch during the month of July in 2016, During my experience, I was able to work with rat cells through different experiments such as a gel electrophoresis, a MPO kit experiment, taking microscopic images, etc.  After my experience, I have a deeper understanding of the processes of aging and how we can help prevent it.  I created two technology-based innovations to help speed up several processes, such as a gel electrophoresis.  These innovations are a python turtle code and a 3D-printable object that will help with pipetting into a 96-well plate.  Hector and I used a 96-well plate multiple times during my three-week internship and we experienced multiple issues with them while pipetting.  Through the use of my innovations, the percentage of human error while pipetting will be greatly diminished.  

+ Experience

Experience Description

My shadowing experience was completed at the National Institute on Aging in the John’s Hopkins Bayview Campus in Baltimore working in the Translational Gerontology Branch (TGB) lead by Dr. Rafael de Cabo during the last three weeks of July in 2016.  I shadowed for 120 hours, but only journaled 80 hours.  My main mentor was Hector Mora, a Post-Bac in the TGB.  He worked closely with his Post-Doc, Irene Alfaras, so she was my other mentor.  Since I was working in a government facility, I had to complete excess amounts of training and paperwork before I was cleared to work in the TGB.  After completing my training, Hector allowed for me to work closely alongside him in the laboratory on one of his projects – the ARA290 rat project.  This project was looking at how a drug, called ARA290 could possibly lengthen the lives of rats.  This would be done by reducing the inflammation in the rat’s liver cells, increasing the oxidation in the rat’s kidney cells, and much more that Hector has been working on for the past year.  It was very interesting to join an experiment that has been going on for the past year.  

Through my experience, I was able to do very intriguing experiments, some of which we have already done in biomed.  We performed a gel electrophoresis on rat liver cells, kidney cells, and serum cells which allowed for us to see the oxygen levels in rats injected with ARA290 and rats given a placebo.  We discovered that the rats injected with the ARA290 had a statistically significant increase in oxygen levels which would lead for those rats to slightly longer lives.  We were also able to use a high-powered microscopic telescope called the Olympus 1×51, which was amazing.  This was the most interesting observation within my entire experience.  Since I am a technophile, this piece of technology was astonishing to me.  The microscopic images would appear on the computer monitor, while you would move the slide with the samples on it around.  Once the slide was in the correct position you would take an image and be able to quantify that image at a later date.  The images that Hector and I took are found here.  

The most significant piece of knowledge that I was able to take away from this experience was that aging is inevitable, but there are ways that can slow the process along.  Before this internship, I thought that slowing the aging process was some wise tail told so that you would attempt to live a healthier life, but in fact there are scientific discoveries that show how different drugs and/or lifestyles allow people to live a longer and healthier life.  Eventually, through more scientific research, people will be able to live well over 100 years of age with a healthy body.

+ Innovation

Innovation Description

The innovations that I created are a python turtle code for regulating pipetting into a 96-well plate and a 3D-printed funnel for a 96-well plate strip.  Although there are also 384-well plates, Hector and I only used the 96-well plate, so I focused my innovations around that.  I decided to make my innovations solely on pipetting into well plates because that was the main problem that I experience while I was shadowing.  The problems that we encountered with the well plate include losing where we were in the plate and accidentally either pipetting into the same well twice, or missing a well entirely and not being able to fit the pipette easily into the well plate without some of the liquid spilling.  

My first innovation was a possible solution to the problem of getting lost in the well plate.  This innovation is a python turtle code.  Python is a computer programming language that allows for the programmer to express concepts in fewer lines of code than more advanced computer programming languages, such as C++ and Java.  The code that I made uses a module called “Turtle”, which allows for the user to create an interactive image through Python.  The code creates an image of a 96-well plate with all of the wells being red and provides instructions on how to use it.  Once the user is done pipetting into a well plate, they would simply click on the well that they just pipetted into and press the spacebar to turn that well green in the image.  This allows for the researcher to easily, but effectively stay on track when pipetting and to never lose their spot in the well plate.  My code can be found here.  This code took well over 10 hours to create because I had to learn python coding before I could make the code.  I started learning python coding in the second quarter of AP Computer Science and we are still learning new features of coding now in the fourth quarter.  The actual creation of this particular code took approximately 15 hours.  The original design of the code took be 6 hours to make, but it did not allow for user interaction.  By the time it took to research how to add interaction into the code and to implement it into my design, another 6 hours had passed by.  Once I had another version of my code completed, I asked Mrs. Capozzoli for feedback on my design.  She said that the circles in my design looked more like ellipses.  Since my home computer renders the Python image in 1080p, while the school computer only render the image in 720p, I needed to change my code to be universal for all computers.  This took the remaining 3 hours.  Since this is a computer code, it has no close competitors or legalities.  

My second innovation was a possible solution to the problem of not being able to fit the pipette easily into the well plate.  This innovation is a 3D-printable well plate funnel strip.  My original design of this 3D model was created in Sketch-Up.  This design only took me one hour to complete and it can be found here.  But, I wanted to showcase the 3D-printer, the Ultimaker 2+, that the Biomedical Sciences program has.  So, I took my design from Sketch-Up, and recreated it in an Autodesk application called Fusion 360.  The Fusion 360 file can be found here.  To recreate my design, I used multiple functions found in Fusion 360.  These functions include sketch, revolve, box, extrude, shell, and combine.  Through these functions, I was able to create 12 – 5 mm long funnels connected to 1 – 1mm strip.  Once my design was finished, I exported the file into another Autodesk application called Print Studio.  The main use I had for this application was to check to see if my design had any geometric errors and if my design needed supports when it was printed.  My designed had no errors nor did it need supports.  Finally, I exported my 3D-model into an application called Cura.  This application is the last computer-based step in the 3D-printing process.  It allowed me to position my design where I wanted it to print in the Ultimaker 2+ and add an adhesion plate so that it would print without failure.  From Cura, I then saved the .gcode file onto the Ultimaker 2+ hard-drive and began the print.  The .gcode file can be found here.  This would be printed using PLA plastic.  Since this design will not be manufactured, it has no competitors and it has no legalities.  If this design were to be used in a laboratory, it would need to be discarded after every use to eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination.  The creation of the design in Fusion 360 took me 6 hours.  The preparation of the design in Print Studio and Cura took me 1 hour, and the actual 3D-print took 30 minutes.   

By | 2017-05-15T15:33:50+00:00 May 12th, 2017|Biomed Capstone Project 2017|0 Comments

About the Author:

Leave A Comment