Awesome! These Cell Cultures Waited Until Friday at 5pm to Need Passaging

Atha, B. et al

Looking forward to having their first weekend off in over nine months, grad students Ramona Diaz, Michael Burton, and Lorraine Harp began finishing their lab work for the day. As the clock struck 10 pm, their normal time on a Friday night to begin wrapping up, they heard a low twitching sound coming from the incubator. 

“We opened up the incubator and saw movement, so I placed a flask under the microscope and couldn’t believe it,” said Diaz recalling the evening. “Right as we were leaving for the weekend, each of our cultures began dividing and multiplying at rates never seen before.”

Immediately realizing the cells in each of their dozens of flasks would soon need to be passaged, Diaz started prepping the tissue culture hood while Burton and Harp frantically dialed the numbers for the on-call technician and lab manager. Both calls went unanswered, and the next round went straight to voicemail. 

“I guess I won’t get time to see my mom for the sixth month in a row,” cried Burton knowing that his dissertation was dependent on keeping these cells alive. After a few minutes of sobbing, he and Harp assisted Diaz as they began passaging cells for the next 55 hours. 

They sipped on the hidden Red Bulls they hid in the lab but were fueled mostly by rage from their failed experiments and rejected manuscripts. By 5 am on Monday, the cells’ growth reportedly came to a halt—just in time for the grad students to start their weekly work. 

Interviewed while rushing with coffee in hand to teach her first class later that morning, Harp explained that the group’s weekends will be quite busy for the next few months. “Now we have a bunch of grants to write so we can replace the supplies we exhausted over the frantic weekend.”

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About Author

Benjamin Atha

Ben Atha (@benjaminatha) is a part-time comedian, and a full-time science writer and coffee snob.