Welcome back dear readers! Today I would like to introduce to you the people involved in one of our core services. Almost all of you know and hopefully also use 😉 our Sanger DNA Sequencing service. To make sure that we are able to process and sequence your samples in a short time, a well-organized, well-equipped and well-trained team is needed. The Sanger Sequencing team is by far the biggest team at inqaba biotec. This is on the one hand due to our goal to provide not only a simple sequencing service, but also Primer design, DNA isolation and analysis if requested. On the other hand this team is so big, because many interns receive their molecular biology training in the Sequencing lab, but they also perform most of the important hands on work.
The man who holds everything together is Christiaan. He started at inqaba biotec 9 years ago as a technician. Back then, the sequencing team consisted of only 3 members, including him. Since 2008, Christiaan has been inqaba biotec’s Production Manager. He is responsible for all services and production and providing a myriad of services. His tasks include project design, sequence analysis, trouble shooting and technical support. Besides his busy work he is doing a PhD in genetics and in his rare leisure time he plays the piano and cello.
Christiaan shares the office with Mischa and Lerato. Mischa is the Senior Analyst for our animal genetics service. She is overseeing all the analysis, research and development involved in the animal genetics service. Mischa has an MSc in Biotechnology from University of Pretoria and will start her PhD in Animal Genetics next year. She is very happy about her very recent marriage, but also about her job that she describes as diverse, challenging and stimulating. Lerato also works as Senior analyst. She has an Honours degree in Biotechnology from University of Pretoria and currently studying towards her MSc. She started two years ago and her tasks include mainly the sample organisation and data analysis in both sequencing and animal genetics. In urgent situations, she also helps out in the lab. Lerato’s personal life also just went a step further… She just had a baby and is now a happy mother.
The person in charge of the laboratory is Stella. Stella studied Biotechnology at Vaal University of Technology and started at inqaba biotec in 2007 as an intern. Afterwards she worked as lab technician for 7 years and has been our Sequencing Lab Manager for 1 year now. So Stella has been here a long time, gained a lot of experience and stays calm also in busy/hectic times. She trains the interns and makes sure that all the samples get processed according to the protocol and in time.
We receive up to 600 samples per day, which all are processed immediately. 600 is a big number and demands for a lot of bench work. Luckily, in the sequencing lab we have at the moment 4 interns, Tinyiko, Hazel, Tshidi and Lebo, and 2 technicians, Phodzo and Iggy. We also have 2 night shift technicians, Johan who has an Msc in Biotechnology from University of Pretoria and Dewald who is studying towards his BSc in Biotechnology. They perform all the DNA extraction, purification and quality control experiments to assure that the DNA is ready for the sequencing. Tinyiko, Tshidi, Lebo, Phodzo and Iggy all studied Biotechnology, Hazel studied Genetics and Microbiology. Iggy mentioned that their team spirit is very good at work. They became friends, like to go out together and explore different foods.
After the successful DNA preparation, the actual sequencing can finally be performed. At inqaba biotec we have two ABI 3500XL genetic analyzers that are mainly run by Becky. Becky comes originally from Congo and came to South Africa for her Biotechnology studies. She started at inqaba biotec 4 years ago as an intern (as well!) and works now as lab technician. Becky performs the final steps towards the sequencing reaction, but also does genotyping. She likes reading, cooking and baking.
My personal impression of the sequencing team is that they are well-organized, enjoy their work and therefore manage every challenge with high quality and within a short time.