Outsourcing Lab Procedures: Results from Request for Information

I previously described our effort to solicit feedback from investigators on their needs and ideas for outsourcing laboratory procedures. Now I’d like to share a summary of the overall results and some observations based on the 35 responses we received (mostly from academia):

Related News Articles*

An eBay for Science Exit icon, Nature

Online Marketplace Helps Professors Outsource Their Lab Research Exit icon, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Have You Heard of Assay Depot? It’s the Amazon.com of Medical Research Exit icon, The Atlantic

Science for Sale: Academic Meets Industry Exit icon, Cell

* This reference list is not meant as an endorsement of specific marketplaces or services.

  • Unexpectedly, almost all of the services mentioned by respondents constitute technologies or methodologies currently available for outsourcing. The most frequently identified ones—next-generation sequencing, bioinformatics/statistics and mass spectroscopy—are offered as services by numerous companies and core facilities.
  • Several marketplace-type platforms have recently been launched that facilitate bringing together researchers and providers of desired laboratory expertise, technology and research services. For a short list, see the news articles included in this post.
  • Evaluating the quality and cost of procedures available for outsourcing is not always straightforward. Similarly, assessing a laboratory’s actual costs for specific procedures, some of which could be outsourced, is difficult. Performing such economic analyses could reveal new needs for outsourcing laboratory procedures.

While we realize that the feedback we received may not be representative of the whole community, the results lead us to conclude that there does not appear to be a need for a special initiative to develop novel outsourcing capabilities.

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