Garcia Lab Blog Post #1 – Dylan Marchione, Graduate Student

January 23, 2020

I’m Dylan, a 5th year graduate student in Ben Garcia’s lab. My research focuses on the use of proteomics to study how the histone code can be dysregulated in cancer. By studying histone modification patterns in both normal and tumor tissue, we have been able to identify better diagnostic markers and suggest new therapeutic targets in diverse cancer types.

The best thing about being in Ben’s lab is being able to be a part of such a diverse and talented group. At the moment, there are close to 30 of us in the lab. We come from all over and we do lots of different things. Many of our experiments require the use of nanoLCs, analytical instruments that enable us to perform liquid chromatography at flow rates lower than 0.5 µl/min. About a year ago, we started getting confused because we had acquired so many of the same make and model, so someone proposed that we name them after countries that people in the lab come from. We now have instruments named: India, China, South Korea, Russia, Poland, Italy, Panama, Dominican Republic, and the Philippines. And that doesn’t even cover everybody in the lab. It is not uncommon at all to hear languages other than English spoken in the lab, and I truly appreciate that. Plus, the potluck dinners are awesome. Have you ever tried maduros with kheer? I cannot recommend it enough.

The range of skill sets in the lab is also really impressive. We have people with backgrounds in everything from Computer Science to Chemistry and Physics to Immunology. On any given day, someone is coding, someone is differentiating stem cells, someone is purifying protein, and someone else is developing a crazy new mass spectrometry method. Whatever experiment I can dream of, there will be someone in the lab who has the right expertise for me to brainstorm with or consult with every step of the way. Ben is always around to provide feedback and guidance, but he allows us to devise our own way to approach problems. On top of this, we have ongoing collaborations with groups all around the world working on a staggering variety of biological questions. In a single lab meeting we will go from hearing about a nanofluidic device that allows for sampling the proteome of a single cell to hearing about the effect of the gut microbiome on histone modifications in the intestinal epithelium, and no one bats an eye. It’s a lot of fun.

I feel that Ben has really put together something special here: he is committed to promoting diversity in science in every sense of the word, and he is as supportive as can be. It’s a privilege to be a part of this team.