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Lab Life Video Series: Spinner Laboratory

Published on · Last Updated 8 months ago


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Lab Life Spinner Laboratory

Nancy Spinner, PhD, Chief, Division of Genomic Diagnostics, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine: I'm Nancy Spinner, and I'm a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Our clinical lab does all the diagnostics for patients with genetic disease, and I also have a research lab, which is where I'm sitting now. My work tends to be very, very translational because I'm interested in trying to identify disease genes for patients with several different types of genetic disorders, and then trying to understand a little bit about those genes. So we're working on improving diagnostics for some of the disorders; we're looking at other disorders in the hopes of finding genes that are associated with those as well. And I feel pretty lucky because our clinical work dovetails really nicely with the research, and I think that one of the nice aspects of our work is the high level of collaboration that we have.

Melissa Gilbert, PhD, Manager of Translational Research Division of Genomic Diagnostics: There is this closeness with patients that's motivating. You work on a disease with people that you know, that you recognize, that you've talked to before. To be there and be around patients that you feel like you're really helping is really nice.

Dr. Spinner: You really get to toggle back and forth between the practical applications and understanding there are patients attached to all of these disorders, so, as a PhD, it's been very, very fulfilling.

Dr. Gilbert: I mean the best part about CHOP is the whole environment.

Dr. Spinner: I love the fact that CHOP is on the Penn campus.

Dr. Gilbert: There's so much, and access to so many things.

Dr. Spinner: There is an atmosphere of scholarship. We are at a world-class university and at a world-class children's hospital.

Dr. Gilbert: The biggest thing I think about grant funding is being able to increase infrastructure in your lab, which is how you can get more done and follow some of those really unique ideas that you don't have pilot data for but you're really excited about – where if you don't have funding for it, you really don't have the time or energy that you can put into it. I think a lot of times we have more ideas than we have time in the day or people to do them.

Dr. Spinner: CHOP really would like to make a bigger investment in omics – genomics omics. This has been a mission for over a year now where CHOP's really trying to think about how can we use our genomic knowledge to improve the health of our patients. CHOP's ability to provide support for investigators is just crucial, and being an institution that can do that is a critical element of our success here.