The people, processes, and technology that make science possible
The people, processes, and technology that make science possible
It’s late January here in northern New Jersey. From Boston to Cape May, everyone is bracing for “the monster storm of 2015.” I’m having flashbacks to the winter of 2010 and 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, weather events similarly filled with drama, uncertainty, and hype—some real, some overblown. But we survived that and we will, I’m fairly certain, survive this. Which brings me to this month’s note.
When looking at best practices for running a lab, things as seemingly diverse as staff development and retention, inventory management, procurement, and efficient use of training spends, need to be looked at together. After all, equipment is only as good as the staff who uses it and your staff is only as good as their training.
Screenwriters know there is a magic formula called “structure” that must be adhered to when writing a successful script. A key element is what occurs at the nine-minute mark in a film. That’s when the hero’s life undergoes a change that forces them to take action and regain their footing, which catalyzes the triumphant conclusion.
With headlines screaming about hacking, of the latest James Bond movie Skyfall most recently, of national and nuclear weapons laboratories not so long ago, and of businesses and individuals almost on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that worldwide information technology (IT) security spending is set to hit $77 billion in 2015—almost 8 percent more than this year’s $71 billion, according to IT researcher Gartner, Inc.
When you walk into the lab, you can feel the tension building. Even though you enjoy your work, interacting with your boss is affecting your overall job satisfaction. You are facing a dilemma: start looking for another job or endure the conflict.
“Trust me.” What sort of image do those words conjure up? Do you picture a parent teaching a child to ride a bike? A used car salesman talking with a customer? Or does your mind perhaps turn to the workplace, thinking of the promise for a future salary increase?
Sample transport is an important part of a successful laboratory operation, vital to accurate analysis.
The equipment, instruments, and systems introduced to the laboratory market at PITTCON 2015
Recently released probe aims to change how pH is measured
In the last issue of Lab Manager, we began to explore the ergonomic risk factors associated with the use of
computers. To recap briefly, three of the fundamental ergonomic risk factors are: position/posture, repetition/duration, and force. These can all be influenced by the work area setup and the activities being performed.
Greg Martin is president of Complectors Consulting (www.complectors.com), based in Pottstown, PA, which provides consulting and training in the area of pharmaceutical analytical chemistry. Mr. Martin has over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and was director of pharmaceutical analytical chemistry (R&D) for a major PhRMA company for a number of years. In addition, he has volunteered for the U.S. Pharmacopeia for over 10 years, and currently serves as vice chair of the General Chapters—Physical Analysis Expert Committee and also serves on expert panels on Validation and Verification; Weights and Balances’ Residual Solvents; and Use of Enzymes for Dissolution Testing of Gelatin Capsules.
Dr. Anne Carpenter leads the Imaging Platform at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT—a team of biologists and computer scientists who develop image analysis and data mining methods and software that are freely available to the public through the open-source CellProfiler project. Dr. Arvind Rao has been an assistant professor in the Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center since 2011.
For the general public, the concern over food fraud revolves around headline-grabbing examples, such as melamine—an organic compound used in plastics—appearing in infant formula from China in 2008 and beef replaced with horsemeat in the UK in 2013.
Like great athletes and musicians, cells employed in cell-based assays or as expression systems for biopharmaceutical production are not born, but made. Cell lines that perform specifically and predictably arise from a population of cells that have undergone one or more genetic transformations (transfection) and are subsequently selected for desirable properties such as viability, protein or virus production; high culture density; or binding to drugs or antigens.
For many labs, automation provides the biggest return on sample preparation because it’s the key time-consuming bottleneck for many processes.
Laboratory shakers come in a variety of configurations, including orbital, horizontal, incubator, tumbling, roller, overhead, rotator, and the subject of this article, rocking shakers. Within these categories, numerous
variables are possible: physical size and sample capacity, speed adjustment, shaking direction, sample pitch, direct temperature control through heating or cooling coils, and environment control through enclosures or use within incubators.
If a product or industry involves particles, and most do, someone analyzes the size of those particles.
Refractometer manufacturers quote accuracy and reproducibility to the fourth, fifth, and sometimes even the sixth decimal places. A good manufacturer will only advertise this level of accuracy after carefully running standards.
Modern titrators can be simply classified as one of two types: potentiometric and Karl Fischer, with the latter available in both coulometric and volumetric versions. While titration may be considered a basic analytical method, modern titrators are far from simplistic. Many titrators offer a variety of automation options and can perform titrations with great accuracy with minimal operator intervention. According to this year’s survey results, over 82% of survey respondents use automated titration in their labs, with fully half of respondents also using an autosampler.
Microplate readers are commonly used in biological research for assay development (39.4%), measurement of biomolecule concentration (34.5%), cell biology (25%), biomarker research (24.0%), and DNA quantification (20% of survey respondents). In addition, microplate readers find use in disease study, IVF, proteomics, PCR setup, and stem cell research. With multiple read modes available and numerous accessories, choosing a microplate reader that meets your current and future needs can prove a daunting task.
Laboratory ovens are common instruments in most laboratories and are used across most scientific disciplines. Lab ovens are most commonly less than 12 cu.ft. in volume, although a great variety of sizes are available in benchtop, stackable, and floor-standing models. Over 25% of survey respondents reported using larger ovens in their labs. While lab ovens are most commonly used for heating and drying (75.6% of respondents), they find a variety of other uses including temperature-linked experimentation (41.7%), evaporating (37.0%), baking (16.5%) and sterilization (11.8%).
Freeze dryers find use in a variety of research and manufacturing environments and are commonly used for material storage, food and pharmaceutical processing, as well as for less common applications such as taxidermy and document recovery. With a wide variety of options available, there is much to consider when purchasing a new freeze dryer.
For the past 40 years scientists from all over the world have trusted Labconco Freeze Dry Systems to lyophilize and protect their assets. With sizes ranging from 1L to 18L and over 17 drying accessories available, FreeZone Freeze Dry Systems can be customized to lyophilize almost any type or size of sample. Don’t settle for just any lyophilizer, order a freeze dryer that you have selected specifically for your samples.
There are no shortages of world records when it comes to Pearl GTL. The facility, located 80 kilometers north of Doha, Qatar, includes the largest GTL plant and one of the largest instrumentation and control systems anywhere on earth. The facility became fully operational in 2012.
Nimbus analytical and precision balances from Adam Equipment feature a compact footprint and easy operation. With readabilities from 0.1mg to 0.1g, capacities from 80g to 22kg, plus USB and RS-232 connections, the Nimbus provides a streamlined weighing experience for discerning professionals worldwide.
At IDBS, our sights are firmly set on enabling collaboration, helping research and development (R&D) organizations gain greater insight from their data and getting their products to market quicker. So we asked ourselves how we could make this simpler. With E-WorkBook 10, not only will you have the power and performance you’ve come to expect from E-WorkBook, you’ll also discover the simplicity and ease of use that comes from an intuitively designed interface, and the flexibility and mobility that comes from our web-based spreadsheet technology.
INTEGRA has introduced a Three Position Stage for its VIAFLO 96 and VIAFLO 384 handheld benchtop pipettes.
With its new 875 Karl Fischer Gas Analyzer, Metrohm combines decades of experience in moisture analysis and sample handling. The KF Gas Analyzer is designed to handle nearly any gas sample – compressed, liquefied or native. It is fully equipped to measure the absolute moisture content of LPG, petrochemical intermediates, natural gas or other compressed or liquefied gases.
The aim to achieve ultrafine and nano-sized materials is becoming of great importance as effort in nanotechnology is a key driver in the development of innovative products. To attain particles in this region, many techniques can be used such as synthesizing such materials as well as high energy milling.
Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) is used for elemental analysis of everything from soil and sludge to water and wastewater, plus various industrial process materials. In evaluating ICP-OES instruments, environmental contract laboratories may prioritize sensitivity and speed. Industrial research laboratories may emphasize stability and analytical precision. However, both agree on the importance of controlling costs.
Knowing how instruments are utilized throughout your laboratory is important information to help you optimize operations, drive cost savings and improve productivity. However, capturing information on instrument ultilization in a lab comprised of an array of different manufacturers, techniques, control software and computer platforms presents a difficult challenge. Until now.
Problem: A variety of factors can result in obsolete laboratory equipment and R&D devices. Project
completion, equipment upgrade, lab closure, and downsizing all create surplus pharmaceutical assets
no longer required in the same capacity—or at all. Given budget restrictions and the importance placed
on environmentally-sound business practices, organizations can’t afford to allow surplus assets to lie
idle or dispose of them without thought to the process. Surplus requires an innovative and sustainable
process that supports strategic business goals.
Problem: The human genome encodes thousands of secreted proteins, each of which is an actor in
the delicate biochemical balance of diagnostics. Even a slight change in any one of these proteins can
mean the difference between sickness and health. Such a change also provides a critical window into
the body and helps to direct diagnosis and treatment, however, the vast majority of secreted proteins
are present in concentrations well below what conventional technologies can measure, and their role in
human health is poorly understood.
Problem: Laboratories are faced with challenges when it comes to storing and tracking samples.
Abstract: Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) can cause long term damage to the environment. Two classes of organic molecules have come to the attention of regulators and water treatment authorities in recent years; iodinated X-Ray contrast media (XCM) and artificial sweeteners (AS). These molecules, by design, have a high degree of stability. Aware of the increased abundance of these molecules in waste water, the IWB Water Laboratory set out to develop a robust, simple method to analyse levels of these molecules in water from the river Rhine, ground water and drinking water.