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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2009 July; 91(5): 447.
PMCID: PMC2758470

Laboratory Skills for Science and Medicine

Reviewed by Hashim Uddin Ahmed

Laboratory Skills for Science and Medicine MAXINE LINTERN 
EXTENT P/H 136 pages, Paperback 
PRICE/ISBN £19.95, 1846190169 
PUBLISHER Radcliffe (Abingdon), 2006 
REVIEWER Hashim Uddin Ahmed 

The author should be congratulated for writing this overview of laboratory skills that, to my knowledge, has not been covered in any other publication. It is something that has been sorely needed by the countless postgraduates and clinical research fellows who have wished to venture into the painstaking discovery of new knowledge. Written for any student at any level who is about to embark on such a project within a scientific laboratory, it should provide a new surgical research fellow with a welcome practical bridge from clinical work to basic science.

Written in an informal and friendly manner, the book is divided into two sections. Section one covers basic concepts such as laboratory safety, chemical concepts, design and management of experiments, record keeping and scientific writing. Section two covers actual biomedical techniques such as Western blotting, ELISA, histological techniques, immunostaining, cell culture, Northern and Southern blotting, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), microarray and finally the use of animals. Every chapter gives a practical overview, which will help overcome the initial sense of abandonment one may feel when starting a research project and that other books in molecular biology distinctly miss.

However, I disagree with the author's assertion that it can be used as a day-to-day guide that the student can continuously come back to as the detail is just not there. For example, in the description of making a primer for PCR. Nevertheless, a good laboratory supervisor can help to build on what the book provides. In addition, guidance on writing grant applications within the scientific writing chapter would be useful. The reader is, however, provided with useful references (mainly websites), which will aid in filling out the details in a way in which traditional publications cannot.

Overall, I would recommend this book for those starting in a new laboratory. It does what it says in the title and provides an introduction and a bridge into what can be an overwhelming start to a new research career.

Articles from Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England are provided here courtesy of The Royal College of Surgeons of England