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Crusades for saving Grant Money?

Annette C. Hollmann ah690549 at bcm.tmc.edu
Thu Jun 19 11:17:39 EST 1997

In article <5o90oc$86s at gap.cco.caltech.edu> ravena at cco.caltech.edu (Karen Allendoerfer) writes:
 >What are concrete things that people do or have seen done that save
 >money without sacrificing productivity?  It might really be worth
 >compiling and disseminating a list like that . . . 
 >So far, I've seen:
 >1. Weigh out your own agarose
 >2. Rinse out Falcon tubes
 >3. Don't throw out expired film

4. When using an expensive kit (like PCR, RT-PCR, etc), determine the
smallest size reaction you need.
RT-PCR kits often recommend running 50 uL reactions - but if you only need
to run 2 gels, 25 uL is all you need. Re-do the math and save 50%.

Case in point:
Regular price for a Boehringer RT-PCR kit:= $ 375 , + $ 50 for RNAse
inhibitor. That is $ 4.25 per reaction if you use 50 uL.
With 25 uL, it's $ 2.13

5.) Watch for sales and stock up, just like you do with your groceries.
There are also coupons for reagents sometimes - use them.

Example: That RT-PCR kit was on sale for $ 188.
($ 188 + $ 50)/200 = $ 1.19 per reaction vs the original $ 4.25 :-)

>I know in one lab I've seen stuffing pipet tip boxes be someone's
>lab chore.  Saving the boxes and buying the tips in bulk saved one
>lab I heard about in Australia around $3000 per year.  A postdoc
>from that lab said she stuffed pipet tips herself in order to save
>enough money to attend international meetings (which, from Australia,
>were quite a lot of money).

We do this too. Our lab manager negotiated a special deal where we buy
bags of 10,000 yellow tips because we go through so many.
>But there is some line to be drawn somewhere, isn't there?  Time
>is money too . . . 

I use these 2 simple rules:

1.) It can be cheap, but it has to work. If I switch to a cheaper reagent,
I get a sample to test , or negotiate a money-back guarantee.

2.) I calculate my total cost to the department, including stipend and
health insurance. I divide that by the hours I work.
If the money saved is less than my price per hour, it's actually costing
the department more, not less.


P.S. I can rack pipet tips faster than anybody else in the lab because I'm
ambidextrous :-)

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