At Purdue

But before becoming a full time writer I spent a number of years working in the United States of America.

One of my great mates who I have known for over 30 years is a professor at Purdue University, Indiana in the USA. For 5 years I spent around 6 months each year working for him in his science laboratory. He is Professor of Cytomics, Professor of Immunopharmacology & Biomedical Engineering, Director of the Purdue University Cytometry Laboratories and President of the International Society for Analytical Cytology … which simply means he loves science. His laboratory studies tissue injuries and wound healing and the effect of toxic chemicals on immune function. He has some really amazing microscopes that can see the tiniest of things, even the cells in the blood that throbs through our bodies, and he also specializes on blood research.

Paul & Chris

Inside The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis 2006

But I wasn’t a scientist in his laboratory although I did get to do some really cool experiments and use his amazing microscopes. I was the Education Advisor for a series of science based CD-ROMs all to do with cells and cell biology – the BioScope Initiative.

I learnt so much working with my friend. Did you know that:

  • A human red blood cell is only 5 microns long (that’s small) and that it has a half life of 70 days?
  • Neutrophils – the cells that destroy bugs by eating them (phagocytosis) only live on the circulation for a half life of 7 hours
  • There are 3 neutrophils for every lymphocyte in the blood, about 5000 per microlitre, that’s about 5,000,000 per millilitre, and when you give a litre of blood you are donating 5,000,000,000 neutrophils!!! Anyway, you basically replace all those neutrophils every 24 hours – now that’s a lot of cells per second!!! Can you calculate that?
  • The normal number of CD4 T cells in the human blood is 500-1500 per microlitre. In AIDS, the number of CD4 cells is really vital for survival. When you get below 400 CD4 cells per microlitre you must go on antiretroviral therapy.

To find out more about my wonderful friend, his work (especially in the field of Cytometry) and his lab, visit the following links. Cytometry is the study of cells and their environment.

While I was working for Paul at Purdue University I also was privileged enough to be asked to lecture a few times to the undergraduate students … not on science but on Australian kids books (and the life of an author) for my friend Professor Jill May – at 7.30 in the morning (at least the students didn’t fall asleep).

Professor Jill May and Professor Darwin Henderson
Professor Jill May and Professor Darwin Henderson (from Cincinnati University) another fantastic professor who loves children’s literature.