Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business

Training and Education

Boosting technical as well as management skills to improve performance.

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According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) careers Web site,, many scientists in industry and academia are pursuing careers with an eye toward laboratory management. But while they may have a good handle on the science and the technical aspects of their job functions, they have little or no training in personnel management, budgeting, interpersonal skills, time management, making hiring decisions, developing policies, improving communication and teamwork, and building group dynamics—all essential skills for functioning as a good manager.

Many companies, organizations, and university partnerships have discovered this lack of management training among scientists and are seeking to plug the gap by providing training in general management, as well as in scientific management training, through on-site courses, publications, online courses, and self-help software. Conferences, seminars, workshops, and teleconferences are also utilized for providing such training. Many companies prefer onsite management training, often customized to meet their specific needs and goals. These training opportunities, offered one-on-one or in small groups, help develop leadership and communication skills among their scientists and improve performance by increasing awareness and acceptance for implementing necessary changes. Many training programs also provide extensive technical training and help teach scientists how to use various types of software programs to maintain good laboratory practices and laboratory information systems.

A variety of off-site training options also are available. Many universities and business schools offer short-term, intensive leadership and management courses to train scientists working at companies, research hospitals, and government laboratories. Scientists participate in evening or weekend classes to boost their management skills and business acumen. A number of online business courses and self-help programs are a good alternative for people seeking to expand their knowledge on their own schedule and at their own pace.

In addition, there are numerous books written specifically for laboratory management, and thousands written on general management, that offer practical advice that can be implemented in a variety of laboratory settings. One resource that provides a collection of practical information is the partnership between the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. They have published such books as Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty and Training Scientists to Make the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Developing Programs in Scientific Management, both of which are available free for noncommercial use on their Web site at Additional materials available include case studies, interactive exercises, and other materials used for training events for beginning scientists.

Tanuja Koppal, PhD, is a freelance science writer and consultant based in Randolph, N.J.

American Association for Laboratory Accreditation
The American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) is a non-profit, non-governmental, public service, membership society. The mission of A2LA is to provide comprehensive services in laboratory accreditation and laboratory-related training. Services are available to any type of organization, be it private or government. Laboratory accreditation is based on internationally accepted criteria for competence (ISO/IEC 17025:2005). A2LA also offers programs for accreditation of inspection bodies, proficiency testing providers, reference material producers and product certification bodies. The fundamental goals of A2LA are to: Achieve customer satisfaction through meeting the needs of both laboratories and their users for competent testing and calibration; Improve the quality of laboratories and the data they produce; and Increase acceptance of accredited laboratory data to facilitate trade.

LabServe LLC offers specialized consulting and training services to a host of public and private environmental organizations. LabServe was formed to address the professional training needs of laboratories and regulators during a time of overall decline in technical expertise. LabServe provides several training solutions including technical seminars, short courses and customized on-site training performed by experts in chemical and microbiological analyses. Training is designed to help regulators, water operators, analysts, and laboratory managers understand all aspects of analytical methods including the underlying chemistry, the details of the procedure, common interferences and performance based alternatives. In addition to training, LabServe provides data review and consulting services in areas such as EPA Alternate Test Procedure (ATP) development, validation and submission and Use Attainability Analyses (UAA).

The Center for Professional Innovation & Education
The Center for Professional Innovation & Education (CfPIE) is a leader in life sciences training offering courses on biotech, biopharmaceutical, medical device, skin/cosmetic and pharmaceutical topics. With over 270 public courses and customized client-site training programs offered annually, CfPIE has a class to fit almost every need. Laboratory topics include sterilization, safety, validation, GLP compliance, and more. Course sizes are limited, ensuring attendee questions are fully addressed. Additionally, CfPIE’s team of top industry experts have created eight certification programs which are offered to course attendees at no additional cost. These programs were designed to enhance participant’s knowledge of critical regulatory concepts so they can face any compliance challenge. Plus, any course or certification program that CfPIE offers can be customized and delivered at client sites anywhere in the world.

Laboratory Management Institute
The U.C. Davis Laboratory ManagementTM Institute (LMI) provides comprehensive leadership and management training for students to help ensure research productivity and quality while enhancing the safety and well being of laboratory subjects and personnel. LMI has developed a curriculum organized into five categories: Leadership, Management, Best Practices, Integrity, and Health, Safety & Security. Program topics include: Leadership styles & self-awareness; Giving & receiving feedback; Working with others; Working through others; Acquiring & using influence; Goal setting; Fund management; Compliance; Health & safety; Project planning; Time management; Quality assurance; Ethics; Good practices: (GLP/GMP/GTP/GCP/ISO); Protocol development/SOPs; Employee recruitment/retention.,14