University of Washington

Rhishikesh Bargaje is a postdoctoral fellow working in ISB’s Hood Lab.  His current research is focused on induced pluripotent stem cells, known as iPS cells, and their differentiation into mature body cells, including cardiomyocytes.  Rhishi is carrying out tissue culture and experimentation at the University of Washington’s South Lake Union campus.  He invited us into the lab there to see his work in progress.

When we arrived at the UW, we suited up in gloves, booties and smocks before entering the tissue culture area.  As we moved into the lab, Rhishi pointed out machines used to separate and analyze cells based on fluorescent staining.  This technology is integral to the single-cell analysis Rhishi performs.

In the lab, Rhishi showed us the cultures of stem cells he was growing.  The unique characteristic of iPS cells is that they are induced stem cells, meaning that they are harvested from mature tissue and forced back into their original stem cell state.  Though the cells do need to grow on a lattice of tissue collected from fetal mice, this process of cell culturing addresses many of the ethical concerns surrounding stem cell acquisition and research.  It was fascinating to hear about this innovative new approach to research and to see high-tech laboratory equipment.  For example, Rhishi stores his cell cultures in vats of liquid nitrogen and utilizes microscopy and imaging technology to observe the cells.  Thanks to Dr. Bargaje and the UW for letting us tour your tissue culture space!