“I am Intramural” Series: Access to Resources

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sharing resources and expertise ranks as a top priority for biomedical researchers around the world. And the reason is pretty straightforward: scientific research is expensive. Really expensive.

The IRP, as a campus-based research enterprise, is set up to support researchers with core facilities that provide centralized services for many individual labs. Our list of shared resources is extensive and continues to grow, but it is the NIH Clinical Center that leads as the most utilized resource on our campus. Home to the world’s largest hospital entirely devoted to clinical research, the Clinical Center makes it possible to rapidly and successfully translate scientific observations and laboratory discoveries into new approaches for diagnosing, treating and preventing disease—all without breaking the bank.

If you have never seen a biomedical research laboratory, a broad breakdown of the essential materials you might find in a typical one might look something like this:

  • Basic bench materials (pipettes, reactants, etc.)    
  • Large lab equipment (refrigerators, hoods, lab shakers, centrifuges) 
  • Microscopy (microscopes, slides, reagents)      
  • Cell/molecular biology equipment (bench equipment, reagents, cell culture materials)
  • General lab chemicals, reagents and cells     
  • Computers, data storage, and reference books     

Then there are some really big items, which are essential to solve today’s complex biomedical questions:

  • Next-generation sequencing machines
  • 3D optical super-resolution microscopes
  • The expertise of people who can actually read the outputs from these machines and crunch the data into meaningful analysis

Whenever there are people involved, such as those involved as participants in clinical studies, special attention is focused on a number of efforts:

  • Purification of reagents appropriate for clinical trials
  • Set-up and recruitment to clinical trials
  • The costs of qualified human resources to both run the trials and analyze the data…

…and you start to see that there is a large investment into the research being done to cure disease and improve human health.
However, sharing the cost among many labs and clinics is an extremely cost-effective answer to a potentially prohibitively expensive question.

You can see how shared resources contribute to our success in the Accomplishments section of the website.

Category: Resources