The wall of polio

15 June 2013

Polio wall of fameThe Polio Wall of Fame (pictured) is a set of fifteen sculptured busts of 17 individuals who made important contributions to understanding and preventing poliomyelitis. The busts are mounted on an exterior wall of Founder’s Hall at the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation in Warm Springs, Georgia, USA.

In my laboratory we have a slightly different wall – we call it The Wall of Polio. It consists of a collection of six-well cell culture plates that have been used to measure the concentration of polioviruses in various samples by plaque assay.

The plaque assay is one of the most important procedures in virology for measuring the virus titer – the concentration of viruses in a sample. This technique was first developed to calculate the titers of bacteriophage stocks. Renato Dulbecco modified this procedure in 1952 for use in animal virology, and it has since been used for reliable determination of the titers of many different viruses.

We love the plaque assay so much that we cannot bear to throw away the plates after they have been counted. They reside in various nooks and crannies in the laboratory, but one creative use has been to construct a wall – think of Legos using cell culture plates. When a visitor comes to the lab, I photograph them in front of the Wall of Polio (sign inspired by Pink Floyd). When you visit don’t be surprised when I ask to photograph you in front of the Wall of Polio.

Update from my postdoctoral scientist Rea: The wall has >1000 plates, stands over 6 ft tall, and contains data from only one experiment which took me almost 4 months to do. Credit goes to Brenda Raud for the sign, construction and design, and some plates too!

  • Anne-Marie

    Love it. I want to visit the Wall!

  • Mahoney

    You guys play rough. You had to break Condit’s arm to get him to pose in front of the wall!

  • Bryant

    I wish we had thought of the wall idea. I work at a major pharmaceutical company and we just completed a screen of nearly two million compounds in a viral cytopathic effect assay. We ended up using almost 5 thousand 384 well plates.

  • Ola

    wow! that’s amazing! That definitely would build a massive pyramid…..I’m getting ideas :-)

  • Susan

    Your “Wall of Polio” has more artistic integrity than the “official” wall of polio at the Founder’s Hall (apologies to the artist/s: I’m sure it’s a worthy memorial to some very intelligent and dedicated individuals). Yours is so authentic and a thing of beauty indeed. Damien Hirst would be green with envy. Perhaps you could auction your Wall to raise funds for your next research project instead of slaving away at yet another research grant….although you might find art dealers almost as (insert appropriaye word here) as the funding bureaucrats

  • Adewole Phoenix Adekola

    Pretty awesome, would definitely think of an idea like this for my lab too…maybe a coloured glass slide mosaic #winks

  • Ra

    The real wall of polio lacks integrity because it lacks one key name, Henrietta Lack.

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