Throughout the last several years, scientists have been debating whether there is a reproducibility crisis in biomedical research. It’s no surprise: how often are you able to repeat the exact results of your own experiments, let alone those from another lab? Sure, there’s a certain amount of variability given the nature of complex cellular systems. However, if the idea is to use these findings for something bigger, then reproducing results is critical. So, why does it appear that results can’t be corroborated very frequently? And how big of an issue is it really?
Lab fails happen to the best of us. We started a contest to commemorate the veterans who have experienced these traumatic or hilarious moments. You all sent us your best work, and we’re happy to announce the winners here, in our blog. These lucky people will receive both the distinction of having the best (worst?) lab fail of the month as well as a stylish GiantMicrobes DNA plushy. Without further ado, here are your best lab fails of March 2019:
Anyone who’s ever worked in a research lab knows that failure is as inevitable as death or taxes. Imagine having to perform a finicky technique from scratch, without previous experience or the help of anyone well-versed in it either. After the hundredth time—I swear it took a lot more than that to finally get it right—the stress can become difficult to manage and solutions start to feel like a far-off fantasy. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to manage failure in the lab and come back stronger.
So, it’s your first time running an experiment? Doesn’t matter if it's something as straightforward as PCR or as complex as ChIP, you'll need to figure out what you’re doing and the best way to do it. A well-run lab usually has a large dictionary of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for a variety of techniques. But what if your lab doesn’t have a protocol for the technique you require? Here, we’ll review some best practices for developing your own set of SOPs in the lab and how they’ll help you and others in your lab get consistent results.
Developed by the United Nations, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is a system of classifying the health, physical, and environmental hazards of chemicals to better maintain health and safety standards at the workplace. With so many countries utilizing different chemical classification systems, the GHS was implemented with the goal of having one unified system that would better promote worldwide regulatory efficiency.
Whether you have banks of cell lines stored in liquid nitrogen or assay reagents constantly consumed, managing your inventory is necessary to keep your lab running smoothly. That means having processes and workflows in place to guarantee the lab is working at peak efficiency, as well as having the proper material and infrastructure to track and manage your assets. Below, we’ll discuss some of the ways you can efficiently manage your inventory and keep track of everything in your lab.
Errors occur every day in healthcare institutions and research facilities. Medical lab errors can be very costly, setting hospitals back hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars for every mislabeled sample, causing irreparable harm to the physical and mental health of the patient. Errors in research also have a broad impact, skewing results and wasting precious materials—which are often irreplaceable—and years of effort.
In both clinical and research labs, it is often necessary to label material or equipment with sensitive information. This can include patient information or confidential experimental data. Once the patient is discharged, or the samples are either processed or no longer needed, these labels must be discarded; however, the information on the labels must still remain private. In certain cases, this may prove to be more difficult than anticipated. Here are 3 unique label options to help ensure that discarded material can’t be used to procure sensitive information.
As any lab will attest, organizing your bank of cell lines is key to ensuring that your research runs smoothly and efficiently. However, this is easier said than done. How often do students and post-docs go searching for a specific cell line or passage number, only to discover that they cannot find what they’re looking for or that they’ve run out of the cells they need? Here are 4 simple ways that proper labeling can safeguard your lab against mismanaged cell line banking.
In our previous post we introduced the basics of how Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) works. We also briefly touched upon the way it might help researchers in the lab. Here we will go more in depth over the many uses for this novel technology in the research environment.