Setting up a lab at home

Duncan Clark Duncan at
Wed Sep 6 07:11:47 EST 1995

It is perfectly possible to set up a lab at home here in the UK. It 
just depends on waht you intend to do.

I set up my company about 7/8 years ago with a lab in the garden shed 
10 x 6ft. No microbiology or cloning was carried out, just 
purification of restriction enzymes and modifying enzymes. All 
microbiology took place in an academic lab from plates to 20 litre
fermentation, harvesting, sonication and ultracentrifugation. I took 
home the supernatant and purified the enzymes in the shed. All assays 
on appropriate phage or plasmid DNA's were carried out at home. I had 
a waterbath, vortexer, gel tank, homemade PSU, 
transilluminator/camera, -20C freezer and a large double doored 
refrigerated cabinet (normally used for cans of coke in the 
newsagent etc) for the purification. In that I had glass columns, 
fraction collector and gradient mixers etc. No hazardous (by COSHH 
definitions) chemicals or solvents were used or kept on site. All 
pure water was carried in from the academic lab. All sterile tips
vials etc were autoclaved on a ordinary kitchen pressure cooker. 

I ran the lab full time for 3 years and moved to a small industrial unit
about 4 years ago but still kept the ability to run gels and do assays
from home up till 18 months or so ago (one kind of worked all hours 
at times - weekends did not really exist). It cost me about 8,000 UK 
pounds to set everything up with the majority of equipment 
second-hand except for the fridge and freezer. Money was very tight 
for a long time!!! It was impossible to get funding in the UK for 
this type of venture as a one man band regardless of one's track 
record. I would say that that is still the case now. The UK is light 
years behind the US in that regard.  

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