Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business

Equipment at Bayer's Former Complex Boon for Scientists

Yale is letting some faculty members take supplies and equipment left behind at the Bayer site, which the university now owns.

Register for free to listen to this article
Listen with Speechify


Yale is letting some faculty members take supplies and equipment left behind at the Bayer site, which the university now owns.
Like hundreds of other junior Yale professors lately, Jeffrey Townsend, an evolutionary biologist, visited a warehouse on the former grounds of a pharmaceutical company to look for free stuff.

He found a robot.

Townsend, who studies gene expression in wine and bread yeast, among other things, estimates that the device would cost $50,000 new, not including the software for operating it.
Since late January, Yale has been giving away a mountain of new and used scientific equipment and supplies to faculty members who otherwise might spend precious grant money to buy it.

Worth more than $2 million at market prices, the booty came with Yale's $100 million purchase last year of Bayer HealthCare's former 136-acre property in West Haven.

Bayer, a division of the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG, abandoned the property after merging with another pharmaceutical company and selling the land and buildings to Yale. Bayer once employed more than 1,500 at the site.

Now fully in control of the site and its half-million-plus square feet of laboratory space, Yale is hatching ambitious plans to expand its medical and scientific research operations, at once advancing its academic mission and fostering discoveries that might have commercial potential. Yale President Richard Levin has said that as many as 2,500 university workers and affiliates may eventually work there. Slightly more than a dozen do now.

Universities elsewhere also have found opportunity in the downsizing of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. In December, the University of Michigan said it would buy the shuttered, 170-plus-acre Ann Arbor campus of Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest drug maker.

Pfizer said it would donate surplus research equipment and other lab supplies to several Michigan universities.

University scientists typically must apply to outside sources, such as the federal government, for grants. So Yale decided to give its less established scientists an advantage by setting them loose on the materials Bayer left behind. The university extended invitations to about 700 junior faculty and randomly assigned each of them a date between Jan. 29 and Feb. 19.

By saving money on lab equipment and supplies, researchers conserve grant money for other essential assets — post-doctoral assistants, for example.

Suzanne Alonzo, an evolutionary ecologist who studies the paternity of fish ("just like you would see on the Maury Povich show," she joked) was hoping she'd find a thermocycler, which amplifies DNA. She did — but it was "an antique," she said. Instead she stocked up on loads of glass vials and other little items for her study of Corsican Wrasse and Darter fish — their mating systems, specifically.

Source: The Hartford Courant