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Jul 1, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 13)

GEN's Electroporation Challenge Decoded

Cleveland Couple Uses Pattern-Recognition and Problem-Solving Skills to Crack Latest Cryptogram

  • Click Image To Enlarge +
    Jodi Bubenik, Ph.D.

    In coming up with “A window on new expression,” a couple based in Cleveland, Ohio, provided the answer that solved GEN’s Cryptogram Challenge: Electroporation.

    Jodi Bubenik, Ph.D., a molecular biologist, and her husband, Peter Bubenik, Ph.D., a mathematics professor, said it took them three hours to figure out the puzzle after studying all nine clues. Jodi works at the Lerner Research Institute, which is affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic. Peter teaches at Cleveland State University. The couple, both Canadians, previously were graduate students at the University of Toronto.

    GEN, its partner Scintellix and sponsor Bio-Rad Laboratories send a hearty congratulations to the husband-and-wife team. The Bubeniks receive two awards for solving the cryptogram. They win a $1,500 cash prize, and Jodi chose Bio-Rad’s 96-well MyCycler personal thermal cycler for research in the  Driscoll Lab at Lerner Research Institute.

  • Click Image To Enlarge +
    Peter Bubenik, Ph.D.

    Peter Johnson, M.D., president and CEO of Scintellix, and vp of R&D at Avery Dennison Medical, is the creator of all the cryptograms in the GEN Challenge series. The Cryptogram Challenge: Electroporation was composed of two images. Image A depicts an artist’s conception of a cell membrane after electroporation. Image B is an artist’s conception of a sheet of cells, four to a grid square, variably expressing green fluorescent protein after transfection with an inhibitor of the gene. Image B also depicts only one of several gene regulation outcomes, since electroporation protocols can be personalized for their degrees of effectiveness based on cell type, buffer constituents, and electroporation settings.

    The task was to decode the cipher in Image B.

    “The contest represented the power of electroporation to influence cellular behavior,” said Dr. Johnson. “The solution revealed a brief message that illuminates a view toward gene control.”

    The Cryptogram Challenge: Electroporation followed five previous contests—the MicroArray Challenge and four Cryptogram Challenges (ELISA, ELISA Redux, RNAi, and RNAi-2)—that each enjoyed great success when presented on GEN’s website beginning in 2008.



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