September, 01 2023 -- The lab opens!!

The Lab Opens!

I officially started at the Fred Hutch in the Basic Sciences Division on 09/01/203.

Making the decision

Over the past year, I had a blast traveling to different campuses around the country and interviewing for faculty positions. Although it was nerve racking and scary, it was helpful exercise in sharpening my ideas and developing my own intuition for the the kinds of science and science-models that I was drawn to. In the end, I decided to stay in Seattle, and start my lab in the Basic Sciences Division at the Fred Hutch.

Although I was located only 2 miles away at the University of Washington I didn't realize how special and different the Hutch is from a traditional University and a few things have immediately stood out to me immediately.

  1. Patients, human health and human flourishing are truly at the center of the Fred Hutch. Many institutions espouse this belief on promotional material, but very few live it the way that researchers, clinicians, and staff do at the Hutch. This has been refreshing, because I've always felt that science is a huge force for good in the world. It's refreshing to see so many working towards that vision unimpeded.
  2. Researchers are encouraged to be bold and be themselves. Some of the trappings of academia are not present at the Hutch. There isn't a tenure system, the hierarchy is flat, and a lot of bureaucracy has been minimized. That means that more of time can go towards thinking, doing, building, and creating.

A quiet opening

I officially started the job as a PI on September 1st. I arrived on a Friday morning with nothing more than a cardboard box full of office supplies and random paraphernalia that had decorated my desk as a postdoc. At that moment it didn't feel like anything had opened. The lab space was still being renovated, and there was no equipment or staff. I spent that first day in my new office just trying to figure out which things to do first.

Since then, a lot has happened! Melissa Phung-Rojas, a recent college graduate who I knew from the Shendure Lab started a week later. Melissa and I have started to order, build, and lay the foundation for various parts of the lab. This includes ordering equipment as well as thinking about the organizational structures underpinning various components of the lab. There's so much to organize, including notes, protocols, materials, cell lines, plasmids, data, and code. I've seen what can happen when a large lab communicates well, it lowers the barrier to the free flow of ideas and starting the next experiment.

My goal is to have a structure that makes it easy to be "expressive" as a scientist. By expressive, I mean that the structure, organization and tooling facilitate easy communication, note taking, and collaboration. A tool that may have these features is Notion and I'm excited to see whether it will take root, get used and grow into a centralized lab repository for information. So far, its been fun to plan experiments, write protocols, take notes and develop a nascent lab wiki.

In the month of September, another major task was recruiting new folks to join the group. For graduate student recruitment this meant attending department retreats, giving talks, pitching ideas, and figuring out what ideas resonate and which ones fall flat. After talking to quite a few folks, I'm excited that we're going to host a few rotation students in the Winter and Spring quarters in 2024. This gives us enough time to start doing experiments in the lab and derisk rotation project ideas.

Sequence everything

The lab's goal is use sequencing to make structure-function measurements that span the scales of biology. We love sequencing because it lets us make billions of observations using equipment and reagents that are widely available. As noted in the "Our Science" page, we're trying to extend these measurements to make observations at the molecular, cellular and organism scales. This effectively means that processes at those scales are encoded in DNA, and subsequently measured via sequencing. Although there are 1000s of different sequencing assays to measure various genomic phenomena, I think that sequencing as a readout platform will become the preferred measurement modality for all assays in the future including the measurement of proteins and their biochemistry.

Stay up-to-date or reach out if you're interested. We're excited to start putting these ideas into action, and eventually into the world.

More Updates

September, 01 2023 -- The lab opens!!
September, 01 2023 -- The lab opens!!

The Srivatsan Lab officially opened on 9/01/2023 in the Basic Sciences Division at the Fred Hutch Cancer Center. Sanjay and Melissa have been hard at work building the lab up and getting it ready for research! We're aiming to be fully operational by Jan 1st 2024!

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