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A network to help labs that are short on funding

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Antonio Carusillo
Antonio Carusillo Oct 15, 2020
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When it comes to scientific research, even the greatest investigator and the best creative mind can find themselves limited by “physical burdens”. In particular, access to equipment or reagents. The cost of some of these can be very high. As consequence labs short on funding may face such limitations and give up on foster great ideas which would require - to be proved - expensive experiments to land on high-impact factor papers.

On this note, I was thinking about a way to help laboratories facing such a challenge. More wealthy laboratories can afford to buy very expensive equipment and to keep up with the state-of-the-art they also tend to upgrade their equipment to new models leaving the old ones to rust. Also, it happens quite often that such laboratories have also a surplus from reagents bought in larger amounts than the actual need. The labs sharing the equipment may be acknowledged among submitting the paper resulting from this, increasing their visibility.

So what if, we could develop a website for equipment/ reagents sharing and create a network where laboratories can give away for free – or with a very low discount – old ( but functioning ) equipment as well as reagents to the labs in need. We may envision a system similar to what is currently done for requesting a research grant.

Meaning that a lab may submit a request containing:
  • What the equipment/ reagent will be needed for
  • Why this equipment/ reagent should be granted to the lab
This way you will create a merit-based system where labs with great minds – but little money – are given the chance to take off.

I would limit this idea to labs approved by National Institutions ( i.e. No company-related labs, neither private “garage biohacker “ ) to better track the equipment and reagents. Cause besides the cost, we cannot forget also that some of those reagents and equipment if misused can be dangerous or raise concern regarding the possibility of some bioterrorist taking advantage of a system like this to get free equipment for shady goals.

  • Do you think that a similar initiative would be beneficial?
  • What would be the pro and cons?
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Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagaina year ago
Great idea. I would add one suggestion here. Since we are dealing not only with the reagents and chemicals but with equipment as well, we have to first make sure that the equipment listed for sharing/selling in the platform are properly functioning. We know that a machine as simple as a micropipette is useless when it loses its optimum calibration. The platform shall hence not just be a marketplace for buying or selling second-hand laboratory equipment, but also has to guarantee that everything that is listed is properly functioning, meets all the standard mensuration requirements and can be directly used in a new laboratory without any extensive modification. If any modification/recalibration/repair is needed, the platform will have to take care of that. I would suggest recruiting a special technical team that checks all the listed equipment before including in the marketplace, and making necessary repairing if any is needed.
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