Jul 252014

Just finished the book “Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination“. Although I later found that it was not the Disney books with the best reviews, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. The introduction at the beginning was a bit scattered and boring, but as soon as the story begins, it is fun to read.

As I was “reading” (listening to audiobook on my commute”, I felt like in many ways Disney is similar to Steve Jobs. Like Steve Jobs, Walt Disney was always totally passionate and absorbed in his projects, and extremely detailed oriented. Unlike Steve Jobs who was always (at least portrayed in the book) completely confident like a maniac, Walt Disney had his doubts and struggles when what he believed in didn’t get the desired outcome, and he would revise his approaches or let his delegates try new things to see how things work. He continued to challenge himself for better creativity, and was willing makes a lot of practical compromises. The book also covered other more humane side of him than Jobs. E.g. how Disney was like to his families, his old colleagues and teachers, how he worked with the Disneyland workers late into the night before it opened. As a scientist, I got totally inspired!

By chance I found this blog: Ten Things I’ve Learned from Walt Disney. Can’t agree more!

Jul 012014

Recently heard some talks about single cell gene expression using either Fluidigm’s microfluidic chip or CyToF. Fluidigm is a microfluidics approach that can do multiplex RNA expression of a few hundred genes in single cells, and the user just need to custom design qPCR primers for the target genes. CyToF is a proteomics approach to look at the protein expression of ~50 genes in single cells, if antibodies for the proteins of interest are available. Both give amazingly robust results, which at the current level, seems to be more cost effective than single-cell RNA-seq. For most of the biological systems, robustly testing 50-300 genes in single cells in a population will be enough to gain the insights people get from single-cell RNA-seq at a much lower cost. Potentially interesting bioinformatics problems will be better selection of the genes for testing. Heard from colleagues that Fluidigm bought the company that made CyTof, and they will be pushing out a new machine that combines the two capabilities. I look forward to many exiting new discoveries and opportunities in this area.