Employee Highlight: Dan Karel

Employee Highlight: Dan Karel

Jun 01

The expressed goal of the Ragon Insitute is lofty: to harness the immune system to prevent and cure human disease.  But behind every principal investigator publishing a new finding is a team of support staff enabling their research.  In the offices, administrative assistants, regulatory staff, and grant administrators manage the office, monitor funding, and ensure that IRB protocols are strictly followed.  In the laboratory, research technicians are not only preparing for future scientific careers, they also perform laboratory work crucial to the research of principal investigators.


Therefore, the Ragon Institute is pleased to present interviews with these support staff, to learn more about them and the important role that they play at the Ragon Institute.


Today we check in with Dan Karel, Research Technician with the Walker Laboratory.


Where are you from?  How long have you been at Ragon?

I am from Westchester County, New York and I have been at the Ragon Institute since August of 2011, so about two and a half years.


What do you do at Ragon?  What is a typical day like?

I work as a Research Technician in Bruce Walker’s lab. I work with Blandine Monel, a research fellow in Bruce’s lab, investigating Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte recognition of HIV infected CD4+ cells, immediately following viral entry. Along with Blandine, I run many standard immunology/virology assays including HIV infection assays, cellular staining and flow cytometry. I am also responsible for growing out virus and performing some molecular biology work, such as cloning plasmids using bacteria. My work varies significantly day to day, but there is definitely enough to keep me busy. I also work with Alicja Trocha, the senior lab manager, to help keep everything running smoothly in the Walker Lab!


What got you interested in science?

Growing up I thought Carl Sagan, Bill Nye and Richard Dawkins were the coolest (and smartest) people to ever live. I always enjoyed learning about nature and I have always asked too many questions, which is exactly what scientists do. I also worked in a nephrology laboratory as an undergraduate at Boston University, which really ignited my interest in medicine and highlighted to me the importance of biomedical research especially.


If you weren’t a scientist, what would you be doing?

This I cannot even imagine. I would probably live in Wyoming or Colorado and ski all day. Either that or become a science teacher.


What is your favorite place in Boston/Cambridge to hang out?

My favorite place in Cambridge is clearly 400 Technology Square. But when I am not at lab, I really like the 1369 Coffee House in Inman Square. Also Lord Hobo has amazing food, and of course a great beer selection.