Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Let’s Get Creative!

Let’s get creative! After all, it should come naturally to a scientific mind and is supposed to be the fun part of the job. I recently heard this quote by Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi : “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought”. For scientists, it should serve as a reminder that there is more left to discover, even in the things we see every day.
My goal is to re-introduce the creativity tools within our Gen5 reader software. You may use it every day but how long has it been since you’ve thought about it? I want to remind you of a few features that will allow you to get creative and hopefully, discover an easier (and faster) way of doing things.

BioTek readers are great at measuring the raw data, but the interesting part comes in analyzing that data and Gen5 can help. Most people are aware of the basics: subtracting the blanks, creating a standard curve and averaging replicates. But wait, there’s more. Go to Gen5’s Help section and search for the term “Formula Syntax for Transformation” and choose the topic under the same name. I bet you’ll discover a new function or more such as natural log, finding the max or min and including curve parameters in a formula. Also, keep in mind that you can select multiple data sets within a single transformation for complex data manipulations.

Here’s an example for those using a BioTek reader to monitor yeast or bacterial growth: Gen5 software can calculate the doubling times! First, create a Custom transformation that normalizes all reads to the first read by selecting multiple data sets (DS1 = all reads, DS2 = read 1) and type the formula “DS1/DS2”. Then, create a Kinetic analysis with your normalized data and choose an Onset OD of 2. Instantly, you’ll have a new matrix called Onset Time containing the doubling times for each well. Pretty easy and this is just one of the ways that Gen5 can do the work for you.

I’d also like to invite you to get inspired by viewing Gen5 V2 sample files within the software and on our website. These sample files have been customized to display experimental results in a simple way, most of which is accomplished by selecting the Edit button at the top of the result windows (matrix, table, graph, etc.). Through this, you can change colors, formats, arrangements and a lot more. For example, combine Gen5’s heat map function with the right concentrations of fluorescein on a microplate and voilá, you’ve got your lab’s 2012 holiday greeting card! Here’s a sneak peek at mine:

Gen5 Holiday card

So go on, get creative and let Gen5 software help you along the way!

By: BioTek Instruments, Ellaine Abueg, Product Manager


  1. Interesting and creative idea. Your concept is sound, but you need to correct for the background of the media before you normalize the data. The easiest way is to add an extra custom transformation where DS1=All, DS2=read 1 and the formula would be "DS1-DS2" and the data out name would be "Blanked". Then use "Blanked" as the data to be normalized. I would also suggest using something other than read 1 to normalize against. It would be better to pick a time point in the log-phase portion of the growth curve (e.g. read 5). Note that the read number can be altered depending on the read timing and speed of growth.

    1. Thanks for the feedback and detailed instructions. I'm glad I got you thinking about it and trying it for yourself!