Cell Culture

Cell biology, neurobiology, developmental biology, physiology, cancer biology, stem cell biology, pharmacology - what do they all have in common? All take advantage of cultured cells and tissues to answer fundamental questions in biology. The ability to perform experiments on isolated cells has enabled many studies not possible or practical with intact organisms.

RIBS students will learn how to passage and culture mouse BaF3 cells. These immune system cells have been altered so that they behave like leukemic cells.  We will study the response of these cells to drugs (e.g. Gleevec, Sprycel) that are currently used to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia.  We will also work with PtK cells derived from the kidney of the potoroo (Potorous tridactylus), a marsupial rat kangaroo.  Maintained in culture for decades, PtK cells are often used in the study of cell biology. They spread out nicely on cover slips and allow students to see clearly the organization of organelles within the cell.

  • Sterile technique and cell culturing 
  • Cell counting 
  • Passaging and growing cells on cover slips 
  • Staining cells (see Fluorescence microscopy) 
  • Cell proliferation assays
Cell Culture and Counting

Student will learn how to work safely with cell lines and how to prevent conatmination of their cultures.  As part of this project, the student will learn how to use a hemacytometer as well as how to count cells using an automated cell counter.  They will also learn how to prepare serial dilutions. 


Students will stain cover slips for several organelles, including the ER, mitochondria, Golgi and nucleus.

Cell Proliferation

Students will conduct proliferation/viability assays of the BaF3 cells following treatment with various anti-cancer drugs. Constructing dose-response curves and performing statistical analyses of the data will allow the students to judge the effectiveness of different anti-cancer drugs.