Sofia Buckle: Bluebird Bio
Over the past three and a half weeks, I have had the honor to work at Bluebird Bio in Cambridge. I was an intern for Bluebird’s Sniper department in Oncology research and development. In the first week and a half of my internship, I was required to attend the company on-boarding for all new employees. This aspect of my internship was surprisingly valuable as I learned an incredible amount about the ideology behind Bluebird and their purpose as a company. Essentially, the company works to extract diseased cells from patients, recode them, and inject them back into the patient with the hope that the changed DNA of the cells will correct the disease. I listened to several patient stories that made the rare diseases that the company works to solve come to life. In addition, I received the proper lab training needed in order to enter into BL2 labs.
For the majority of my time, I primarily helped out the inventory technician filling outgoing and incoming orders for the fellow scientist on our floor. We worked with several different types of cells including T-cells, tumor cells, PBMCs, vectors, viruses, etc. These cells are stored in massive liquid nitrogen tanks or freezers kept at -80 degrees celsius. The scientists used a system named LIMS to input their orders of the types of cells they would need for their upcoming experiments. Then, we would process and relocate the samples into a dropbox readily available for the scientist. Likewise, we stored all the samples that the scientists reproduced from parent cells. The best part of working with the orders was not only plucking samples out of the cool-looking liquid nitrogen tank, but also interacting with the scientists as they came to pick up their orders. Here, I was able to ask them what they were using the cells for the purpose of the experiments. The scientists were all incredibly friendly and would even pull up data charts on their computers to help me learn.
While I was not working with the inventory technician, I shadowed several of the scientists as they completed potentially groundbreaking experiments. One impedance experiment that I shadowed was approved to be tested in the mice! This means that the results of the experiment were promising and accepted to be tested in a more human like environment. While shadowing the scientists, I was able to ask more questions about the purposes of the experiments. The scientists did an amazing job of breaking down the complex processes that they were performing and explaining it to me in such a way that I was able to easily digest the information. Outside of shadowing, I also saw the responsibilities of belonging to a large company. I attended several meetings, everything from company wide meetings to 1 on 1’s, and saw first hand how companies function on an internal level. Overall, my time at Bluebird Bio flew by, thus symbolizing my wonderful time here.