The MAGIC of Science.

Basavareju Shankarappa bsh at MED.PITT.EDU
Thu Jul 9 16:49:36 EST 1992


Lately there has been a lot of discussions about the use of kits.
I feel compelled to add my few cents worth to the dialog.
I think people are getting carried away in a grey vision of outrage at 
paying money for someone's idea in larger interests of "THE SCIENCE"

A few facts first.  Does anyone ever think why the 99.99% articles are
authored by more than one person.  What is the idea behind collaborations 
between different disciplines of science.  

In most of the above cases, it is implied that different people are good
at different things and hence, you do not usually expect a person to be
a master at all the fields.  

As I see it, the use of kits IN MODERATION ! is deemed to be viewed as
just a collaboration with Promega instead of a person.  Does it not used to
or still happen that you do some thing and send the DNA or something else to a collegue and then wait for the results without bothering to know how exactly he
got there.  

My point is as things get advanced (progress?), it becomes imperative to 
restrict yourself to areas that you are good at or want to be good at.
By outlawing kits, you do not mean that everyone will understand what they
are doing very well.  If a person has that attitude, kit or no kit he will not
change.  
Believe me, coming from a place where you cannot buy a good quality medium
let alone ultrapure reagents, it is mostly because of the development of 
companies like stratagene, promega new england biolabs etc., here in the US
it is possible for everyone to undertake experiments in molecular biology.
Am I sore that Promega makes money of some glass powder? very slightly.    
Because although the price may be comparatively high, I believe it is
worth spending that much as an alternative to not doing that work at all.

In this race at trying to solve the major biological questions, you have to
be intelligent enough to take advantage of the kits and definetely try
to understand how it works.  
When Promega makes money of Magic kit, it is not like Saddam Hussien making it.
Usually in the long run looking at the big picture you will end up benefitting by getting better products.  This usually happens because, the companies know too well that they cannot keep quiet and enjoy all the money they make out of Magic kits.  They know that they have to invest in other technologies or developing other kits (!) so that they keep on making more and more money.  Believe me
however gross it sounds, it is much better than the alternative.

So face it, try to use kits to work out something greater rather than trying
to make everyone perfect the technique of plasmid mini preps or try to undercut the inventor by pirating the recipe.  I have tried my best to understand what is happening at each stage of every experiment including kits and tell others whom I am responsible for the same thing.  

My only request is think of times when people used to purify the restriction
enzymes they needed in their own labs.  Do you want to go back to that?

-Raj Shankarappa.




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