Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Myriad Trip, Part One

What. A. Time.

I had such a wonderful three day trip.  In quick summary: great friends, great educational experience, great sight-seeing, and great food.  If you want to stick around for the longer version (at least part one), keep scrolling!  I warn you, it’s wordy, but there are plenty of pretty pictures too.  =D

The trip started with two (on time!) flights out to Salt Lake.  It was a beautiful Wednesday to fly.  You can’t ask for more than blue skies and some fluffy clouds.


Upon arrival I took a cab to the hotel and I was blown away by all the beautiful mountains.  Pretty sure they continued to surprise me each time I went outside or looked out a window.


Myriad put us up the Marriott right down the road from them.  We were on the private concierge floor (which required a room key to access in the elevator) and each had our own room.  Mine had an incredible view.


I was more than happy to relax for a bit before finding the other genetic counselor students who were ready to go to dinner.


We had all been in touch prior to our trip and decided on sushi for our first meal.  Takashi came highly recommended and we were all fairly hungry when we arrived.  We started off with a bottle of sake split six ways.


It was alright but certainly not my favorite.  The sushi, however, was a whole different story.  Wow, it was good.  We ordered appetizers first though, in the form of wok-tossed asparagus and glass noodles, edamame, and green papaya salad.


Then came roll after roll after roll. I think we had something like nine rolls between all of us and Elizabeth ended up getting a fully cooked chicken dish to suit her own non-sushi tastes.  We were glad they could accommodate everyone!  Anyways, the sushi:

(yellowtail, albacore, salmon, and green onion roll
flash fried with “hotter than hell” dipping sauce)


Magic Dragon
(spiced crab and avocado roll topped with
sliced unagi, avocado, eel sauce, and sesame seeds)


(tempura fried portabellas, green beans, sweet potato,
and carrots with sweet sauce and sesame seeds)


(yellowtail, fresh mango, spicy sauce, and fresh chili pepper)


(tempura shishito pepper and tomato inside; avocado,
jalapeno and sea salt on top with yuzu-baslamic dip)


(spiced crab, tomatoes, and asparagus with sesame seeds)


(sockeye salmon, kiwi, mango, sweet sauce)


Yellow Submarine
(yellowtail, yellow fin, shiso, and spciy sauce inside;
yuzu-flavored tobiko on top with tataki sauce on the side)


(tiger shrimp tempura with spiced crab, kaiware, unagi,
and avocado; topped with eel sauce and sesame seeds)


The whole meal was really fantastic.  Some of the best sushi I have ever had.  We were all very impressed and we actually were eating for about two hours. The restaurant was busy (a good sign of local favor) so the rolls came out in spurts.  It was actually perfect because it gave us time to chat and get to know each other.  They were even remarkably okay with me and my picture taking of all the rolls.  Sometimes it can be weird to do this around people I don’t know so well yet but they took it in stride and I was so grateful.  =D  After dinner Mitch suggested chocolate so we sought out a local source and ended up at a gelateria.


There were so many flavors we didn’t know what to do with ourselves.  Some of us tasted and carefully selected our combos while others knew straight out what they wanted.  I ended up with a half-and-half of tiramisu (the server’s favorite flavor) and caramel.  It was beyond yummy.


We ate our gelato “on the run” or rather at a nice leisurely pace as we meandered around Temple Square, the home of the Mormon temple.


It was decently late, we’re talking 10p, so we didn’t get to go into the square but we walked around and took photos none-the-less.


I think we were all struck but how pristine and clean the whole city was and how safe we all felt.  By the time we got back to the hotel we were all ready for bed.  For me, and the other east-coasters, it was already well past midnight to our bodies.  Sadly, because of the time difference, I didn’t sleep incredibly well.  I woke up stark awake at 4am Utah time since 6am my time is normal for me during the week.  I convinced myself to sleep for a little longer but eventually gave in and got up to go and work out.  After sweating, showering, and dressing, the group headed over to Myriad for our first day.


It started with breakfast and some get-to-know-you sessions.  During one of our transits between rooms we walked down the patent hallway.  Whoa.


Wall to wall patents for everything from BRCA1 and BRCA2 to all the reagents they use for their sequencing methods, etc. It was crazy to see but what most caught me off guard was that they didn’t flaunt them.  In fact, they didn’t even bring attention to them.  I literally realized on my own what they were as we were being shuffled past.  I think I was also struck by the number and the variety of patents.  Seriously, the ones that are most publicized are the ones for the genes but there are sooo many more than that.

Lunch followed the lab tour and it was so much more than I expected.  I mean this lab is functional 24 hours a day, 6.5 days a week.  I was amazed at the equipment, the personnel, the techniques, and the communication.  For lunch break we had local made sandwiches and pasta salad with frosted brownies.


After lunch was shadowed the genetic counselors at Myriad who work as the professional support specialists.  They do all sorts of things but one of their main deals is to take calls from patients and providers with concerns and questions.  We listened to a call about a variant of uncertain significance so we got to see the the Myriad database in action.  All I can say it wow, they have one heck of a computer system department.

Later that day we actually had a “class” on mutation classification and variant reclassification.  Honestly, this may have been one of the coolest information sessions.  It was really neat to learn how much work goes into reclassifying variants of uncertain significance that Myriad finds on a daily basis when they run gene sequencing.  The lab finds approximately 10-20 gene changes that they are unsure of EVERY DAY.  That was way more than I expected!

After the first day was finished, some of the staff took us all out for dinner at a local pizza place.  Ironically, it was right next door to the gelateria we ended up at the night before.  We were all fairly hungry and since the pizza was traditional Napolean pizza (very thin crust) we all got our own pizza.  I got the carbonara pizza with egg, crushed tomatoes, pancetta, fresh mozzarella, cracker pepper, parmigiano reggiano, basil, and extra virgin olive oil.  I also had an involtini di prosciutto.  It was arugula and goat cheese wrapped in prosciutto with shaved parm on top and a balsamic and olive oil drizzle.  You know I couldn’t turn down goat cheese!


Post dinner plans included some more roaming.  We hit up the Utah Arts Festival at the public library so see some incredible pieces of work.


There were all sorts of beautiful projects: blown glass tea pots and pumpkins, crazy metal workings, twirling hangings, and incredible sand sculptures.


In addition to art, there were local food tents.  I normally would have gone with a place that was from Utah but Coldstone just sounded too good so I got a scoop of chocolate with some cookie dough crumbles.


Mitch got most certainly the best dessert of the night: a strawberry and brownie kabob covered in white and milk chocolate.


Around 10p (midnight my time) we all headed back to the hotel to get some shut eye for Friday’s events.  Stay tuned for part two!  Now I’m going to work out and head to bed early.  I need some sleep!!  I also need to clean out my Google Reader too.


This is what happens when you don’t have internet for four days.  Oh well, until next time my friends!  Have a wonderful weekend.

Question: Do you think you should be able to patent genes?


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