This has not been a rockstar week of productivity. Had a lot of admin-y type stuff to do – collecting signatures for my ADA abstract submission, informally reviewing a colleague’s paper (check out his non work related blog if you are interested) and doing a presentation. My presentation, which you may download – but not hold me to (as there are some inaccuracies – such as you CAN have your salary topped up by your institution in the K99 phase), was on my experience writing a K99 / R00 application. A summary of everything I had learned about this mechanism. In summary, what I felt was most useful and what I really wished I had known (and I have touched on this previously) was:

I had a shot. The belief that I could achieve it was eventually beaten out of me by everyone around me. They were wrong.

Some people just can’t be relied on. They won’t come through at the last minute and you definitely need a contingency plan

It takes up a lot of your time, even your free time. It is exhausting as I never really ‘switched off’ from it – even when swimming or running (my ‘chill time’) I was writing and rewriting in my head, addressing issues, thinking about it.

The ‘admin’ – description of UAB, letters of support etc – took forever.

The personal statement part of the Biosketch is extremely important and extremely difficult. Try to get hold of good ones from people around your level, doing the same thing as you.

You need very broad future directions. So if you find a gene associated with CVD, the future direction is not to deeper sequence that gene and get more data, it is to use the information from that aim to improve human health – e.g. use it in a predictive algorithm, use it to inform biology.

Making your own diagrams is not very difficult and extremely helpful for people reading it.

Do not lie, do not fudge the truth, do not over grandise things. And there is no need to do any of that. It is unnecessary and it doesn’t work as it doesn’t ‘ring true’ or ‘hold together’ well if you do. Be selective in what you say, tell a story (this is the hardest thing) but be honest and straight forward about what you have achieved, not hiding behind jargon.

So, aside of writing and delivering that, and being pathetically distracted by being newly engaged (vomit-y I know, but so true) I spent some time deciding and developing my next projects. Currently I have shown that in one sample, the size of your fasting lipoproteins may help us find those with the worst features of the metabolic syndrome (MetS, a cluster of features indicating insulin resistance and possibly pre-type II Diabetes) – we already ‘knew’ that the Mets was marked by smaller low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles but in GOLDN (Donna Arnett’s study) severe MetS is also marked by large very low-density (VLDL) particles. Although, without the small LDL particles, those large VLDL diameters are uninformative for insulin resistance.

Now, I am going to look further into this: I want to see if changes in the lipoprotein lipase gene predict this pattern of small LDL and large VLDL particles. I have tested three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP: single changes in the long code of the gene) and found one significant difference between those with the MetS who have large VLDL and those with the MetS who do not. I want to take more SNPs across the whole gene, and see if I can put all the information together in a gene based approach to see if the gene itself, rather than single isolated changes within the gene, can be said to be associated with a worsening of Mets features. This would be great support for a K99 resubmission, so in the words of my mentor Donna: I need to get cracking!!