It is an exciting venture,creativity and understandably overwhelming to starting a new lab. There are 6 essential factors to consider when designing a laboratory that can help it become more successful.
- Purpose of Your New Lab
The purpose and function of your proposed lab sets the course for the tasks involved in setting up a brand new lab.The equipment and process should be different between a lab used for teaching purposes and a research lab.
The first thing you need to do is choose a clear-cut system that suited to your research’s proposed needs to organize its workflow, inventory, notebooks, and result analysis for a new lab.It is also recommended to use electronic notebooks in place of traditional handwritten notebooks to keep detailed lab notes while integrating seamlessly into system as well. Combining a system with an electronic notebook provides a much more consistent process than classicallab notebooks.
- Lab layout
You should design your lab space to optimize efficiency, promote collaboration and must also maximize the space available and respond to your staff’s needs.
Separate the lab layout into different zones with varying degrees and types of hazards, and plan around those zones accordingly. Areas predicted to have “heavy human traffic” should not also be the “extremely hazardous zone of peril.” Create different areas for general population and lab staff so they won’t have to bump into each other. Place commonly used large equipment in strategic locations; they should be away from heavy traffic areas but easily accessible.
When evaluating lab space we need to identify potential hazards and safety issues immediately. Ensuring everyone is set up for mandatory safety training is necessary and aslo there is a workshop in place for your lab personnel that introduces them to the possible hazards of the lab as well as protocols and proper safety procedures .
Making sure your lab equipped with safety with the basics equipment , like a fire extinguisher, fire blankets, a first-aid kit, emergency showers and gloves.
Ensure that lab entry is restricted to unauthorized personnel to prevent any mishaps and there is more than one exit from the lab in case of emergencies.
Major equipment purchases will undoubtedly vary from lab to lab, depending on research needs. Still, it’s also useful to collaborate with others and identify things like confocal microscopes and other specialized equipment shared across labs. When it comes to the essentials, it’s worth covering as many bases as you can, even if there isn’t an immediate need. Here is a list of many of the basics all labs should purchase, segmented according to a specific need, including:
Cell culture: Laminar flow hood, CO2 incubators, microscope with camera, tabletop cooling centrifuge, mini centrifuge for 1.5 to 2 ml vials, water bath, vacuum suction to aspirate media, cell counter, liquid nitrogen Dewars, cell freezing container, Petri dishes and/or flasks, and cryo vials with cryogenic labels.
Biochemistry and molecular biology: SDS-PAGE minipreps, western blot transfer apparatus, PCR and/or qPCR thermocyclers, sonicator, agarose gel apparatus, power supply, DNA/RNA gel imager, Nanodrop or other methods of measuring DNA/RNA concentration, tissue homogenizer, plate reader, pH meter, heat block, vortex, heat block, rotating shaker, centrifuges (for 50 ml tubes, microplates, 1.5-2 ml tubes, and an ultracentrifuge).
General equipment: Pipettes, tips, tubes, racks, timers, scissors, glassware, stir bars, cylinders, Bunsen burner, fridges and freezers (4°C, -20°C, -80°C), balance, gloves, carboys, calculator, autoclave bin, tapes, labels, printers, and markers.
There’s bound to be a mountain of paperwork, from conducting HIRA (Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment) to protocols, when starting a new lab. It’s better to consult a senior PI or mentor in your field who has gone through setting up their own lab to find out how to get things moving in your lab. But if you don’t have any reliable primary sources, you can make your own list of paperwork to get done through identifying clearly the purpose of starting your new lab.