Celebrating cell culture and lab culture

It’s been said that good research is a marathon, not a sprint. But as long as any sort of running is involved, Dr. Victoria Sid is happy to be a part of it.

Victoria Sid
Dr. Victoria Sid: “As scientists, we have to keep level-headed.”

For Dr. Sid, a Research Associate in SciMar’s lab, her work and her life are all about pursuing and achieving wellness for the world, and for herself. She is a fitness fanatic who makes her way to the gym five days a week, and she participates in at least three 10k runs a year.

“Running helps reduce stress and it keeps me healthy,” says the life-long Winnipegger. “I also eat well and do my best to stay relaxed.” For leisure and relaxation, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as watching movies and TV shows.

Her fitness and diet regimen keep Dr. Sid sharp for her very detailed work for SciMar. She wears two hats at the lab, working on preclinical studies as well as experiments on the molecular biology side. Her current work involves growing rat skeletal muscle cells which can be utilized as an in vitro model (meaning outside of the living organism) to investigate the signalling mechanism of hepatic insulin-sensitizing substance (HISS), the hormone at the heart of SciMar’s research.

“I can treat the cells with various compounds, inhibitors, and activators to analyze what’s involved in the production of HISS and observe its effect on glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity,” she says. “We can look at many different variations. That’s the powerful thing about the cell culture model.”

It takes five to eight days to grow the cells, a period during which Dr. Sid takes meticulous notes and records her observations and ideas for the next round of experimentation. Her keen observational skills and attention to even the smallest details were honed while working on her PhD in Physiology and Pathophysiology at the University of Manitoba from where she graduated in 2018. Her 11-year journey as a student was punctuated by 12-hour days as she produced her thesis on the role of folate in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

“Investigating the underlying causes of metabolic disorders and exploring potential therapeutic strategies was intriguing and very exciting to me,” says Dr. Sid in explaining her choice of thesis topic and career. “I like to learn why things work the way they do.”

Dr. Sid’s aunt in China—where rates of type 2 diabetes are skyrocketing—was recently diagnosed with the disease. “Being able to share my knowledge about health and wellness with family and friends is very important to me,” says Dr. Sid.

As clinical trials proceed and the case for viewing type 2 diabetes through a HISS lens is further strengthened, Dr. Sid and her colleagues believe that their work will have a significant impact on enhancing the current knowledge of the disease. That said, they keep their enthusiasm in check.

“The culture in the lab is great. We’re excited about what we are accomplishing and it’s an exciting environment to work in, but we stay focused,” says Dr. Sid. “As scientists, we have to keep level-headed. We can’t get too excited by a promising result the first time we see it. We have to stay calm, confirm our findings, and then confirm them again. That said, we are optimistic that our research will eventually lead to a promising therapeutic treatment and reduce the burden of type 2 diabetes. I really like our progress.”