BioCore: Demonstrating the Large, Untapped Potential for Efficiency and Cost Avoidance at Research Institutions Through Equipment Sharing

Dustin Quandt, University of Colorado

Prime for large cost avoidance, efficient use of resources, and increased research potential is a niche in instrumentation sharing that continues to be neglected. While typical core facilities offer access to specialized instrumentation and services, a managed small- to mid-scale instrumentation sharing program can offer considerable benefits at near-negligible costs. To this function, the BioCore at CU Boulder was established to help scientists connect with needed instrument resources and to transition existing instruments "owned" by individual labs to be made available to many.

The BioCore serves three biology departments (MCDB, EBIO, IPHY) and over 60 researchers. In the first 18 months of operation, this program has deterred researchers from purchasing over $850,000 in instruments. All BioCore services are free for individual researchers and labs to utilize, including instrumentation use. The BioCore tracks approximately 4,000 instruments, manages two shared lab spaces with 85 instruments, and is liaison to the offices of Contracts and Grants and Property Accounting, leading to reduced researcher administration burden and compliance issues. This program was set up and is operated by a single manager, and is structured to allow for additional departments to join at any time. Researchers have reported increased value of startup packages, decreased time to research, and an increase in the ability to gather preliminary data for grants. Through transferring instruments to shared lab spaces, this program has freed up over 2,000 square feet of usable bench and floor space and led to more efficient use of resources, lab space, energy, and purchasing.

Learning Objectives

  • Analyze home institution for overlap in research resource needs between departments;
  • Identify equipment sharing opportunities across institutional departments to increase cost avoidance;
  • Plan a structure for implementing a shared equipment program; and
  • Describe equipment sharing program to potential users.

Biography:

Dustin is the Manager of Shared Equipment for three biology departments: Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Integrative Physiology. Dustin has a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and a Master's degree in Science Education. Dustin has over five years' experience working in and managing research labs ranging from Chemistry, Optical Physics, Forest Ecology, and Molecular Biology.

 

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