In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re featuring a multi-part tribute to notable women in science. From biology and medicine to mathematics and physics, women made many important discoveries and theoretical leaps that were too-often lost in history, particularly before the late 20th century. This series will chronicle some of science’s most innovative, insightful women.
Merit Ptah (c. 2700 BCE)
Merit Ptah, courtesy of SuneelDhand.com
The history of women in science begins with Merit Ptah. Her title of “Chief Physician” is inscribed on a tomb at Saqqara, next to fellow Chief Physicians Imhotep and her (unnamed) son, making her the first woman named in any scientific field. Although her exact accomplishments are unknown, her title implies she was a teacher and supervisor for other doctors as well as a practicing physician for the royal court. In honor of her status, modern scientists named a crater in Venus after her.
Nettie Stevens (1861-1912)
Nettie Stevens courtesy of TodayInSci.com
With a research career spanning only 11 years, Nettie Stevens discovered two species of unicellular organisms, published 40 papers, won the 1905 Ellen Richards Prize for the best scientific paper written by a woman, and provided evidence that X and Y chromosomes determine the sex of an organism. She worked as a teacher from the age of 19 to continue her education, culminating in an M.A. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College. She originally started work with protozoa. From there, she migrated to cytology and then embryology. She published her paper on the Y chromosome (Studies in Spermatogenesis, Part I) in 1905, then continued working as an associate at Bryn Mawr College until she succumbed to breast cancer in 1912.
Serial tags on balances often show a d, or division, value. Also referred to as the readability of the balance, it represents the smallest measurement that the balance can detect. A balance with a readability of 1 g will only show measurements in increments of whole grams, a readability of 1 mg will show measurements in increments of milligrams, and so on.
This value loosely determines the price of the balance. If you divide the maximum load (or capacity) of the balance by the d value, you get the number of individual measurements (or divisions) that the balance can weigh. For example, a balance with a maximum capacity of 4000 g and a d value of 1 g has 4000 divisions. A balance with a maximum capacity of 120 g and a d value of 1 mg (.001 g) has 120,000 divisions. For that reason, the balance with the lower d value is generally more expensive than the balance with the higher capacity.
Dual- and multi-range readability
If you need a specific readability for all your measurements, look out for dual- and multi-range balances. This means that the d value of the balance will change depending on the load. For instance, compare a balance with a readability of 0.1 g to a dual-range balance with readabilities of 0.1 g and 1 mg. Both balances can measure 0.5 g, but the dual-range balance offers greater specificity at that value by producing a reading of 500 mg and detecting variations within a milligram. For masses over a certain size specified by the manufacturer, the dual-range balance will go back to a readability of 0.1 g.
Additional performance metrics
User manuals might include other specifications such as linearity, stability, sensitivity, and repeatability. Mettler’s guide provides formal definitions for these terms, but all you really need to know when you’re shopping is that the values are usually quantified as a standard deviation or the maximum limit of deviation. Minimal deviation indicates that the balance will have consistent, high-quality performance over a wide range of operating conditions. In our experience, they are commonly expressed like “Linearity = 0.007 g at 20 g.” For the manuals and data sheets that don’t follow these conventions, just look for the smallest values to get the most reliable readings.
Most commercial brands will provide an NTEP certificate of conformance, a document showing their balance’s adherence to the standards set by the National Conference on Weights and Measures. Therefore, even if you are in a regulated industry, you most likely won’t have to be concerned about these standards, and regular calibration will be enough to ensure consistent and quality weighing. If the balance doesn’t have that documentation, you can make an appointment with a lab supported by the NCWM to obtain the certificate.
What else do you look for in scales and balances? Tell us in the comments below!
Most laboratories handle some type of temperature-controlled substance, such as cells, enzymes, and reagents. As such, they often need specialized cold storage instead of basic kitchen models to ensure safe and consistent cooling conditions. This guide will serve as an introduction to buying freezers and refrigerators with extra tips specific to pre-owned equipment.
VWR SCBMF-3020, BSIID: 301-7180
1. Temperature range and control
There are four categories of laboratory freezers: standard freezer (-20°C), plasma freezer (-40°C), ultralow freezer (-80°C), and cryofreezer (-150°C or lower). Refrigerators are less striated with a general range of 1-12°C. Most freezers and fridges are adjustable to some extent, but occasional models are hard-set to one specific temperature. If you need a greater range of temperatures rather than the factory preset, be sure to check for a control panel or other adjustment interface as well as a manual or other documentation with the unit’s specifications.
2. Defrost type
Manual defrost shelves
There are two defrost types for freezers: automatic (“frost free”) and manual. Automatic defrost means the freezer will cycle through cooling and warming periods to prevent frost build up inside the cabinet. Manual defrost means the freezer won’t run through those cycles, and the frost will need to be shaved off by hand.
Most laboratory-grade freezers are manual defrost because they are expected to handle samples that can’t withstand temperature variation. Alternatively, most basic and combination units are automatic defrost for easy maintenance. A simple way to determine a unit’s defrost type is to look at the shelving. Most upright manual defrost freezers will have coils under the shelves to maintain the set temperature; however, ultra low freezers and cryofreezers will always be manual defrost even without visible coils.
3. Display and alarms
Digital displays and alarm systems are becoming increasingly standard with each incoming model. Electronic displays and temperature monitors provide clear and accurate reads of what is happening in the cabinet. Alarm systems help prevent critical errors by alerting scientists of mechanical failures, and they are often supported by liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide backup systems. If you only need something basic for general storage, you will probably be fine without these bells and whistles. If you need to store fragile samples or you work in an area with frequent power outages, then those bells and whistles could save your research.
4. Flammable material storage vs. Explosion-proof storage
Explosion-proof heavy duty conduit box. BSIID: 202-7059
If your lab is handling combustible materials, such as alcohols, you will need appropriate storage to prevent fires and explosions; however, those needs will ultimately depend on your lab environment.
Flammable material storage (FMS) freezers and refrigerators have all electrical components, such as switches and thermostats, on the exterior of the unit to prevent igniting vapors within the cabinet. Additional features may include self-closing doors to prevent combustible vapors from escaping and fortified insulation to limit damage in the case of a fire.
Explosion-proof storage expands upon FMS by requiring complete protection from external vapors. This means all electrical components are outside of the cabinet and completely sealed from the environment. Also, these units will have a heavy duty conduit outlet box to ensure a safe connection directly to the circuit breaker.
Generally, both FMS and explosion-proof storage will have bright labels plastered visibly on the front door warning against holding heat sources near the flammable contents. If the unit does not have any warning labels (which may be possible when buying pre-owned equipment), you can usually determine if it’s fire-safe by looking for electrical connections within the chamber. Regardless, definitely ask your supplier for fire-proof approval or documentation about the unit’s adherence to UL, NFPA, or OSHA standards.
5. Electrical requirements
Most basic refrigerators and freezers will be 115/120 V, 50-60 Hz, and 15 amperes. Lower temperature units will potentially require a greater amperage to operate, such as 20 amperes or more. Many facilities are not equipped for the higher current and, therefore, cannot support heavy duty cold storage. Check your laboratory’s circuit breakers and outlets before purchasing a heavy duty freezer to make sure it can accommodate the greater electrical requirements.
SAN DIEGO, Jan. 31, 2017 — Biosurplus, America’s preeminent buyer and reseller of preowned lab equipment, congratulates its Vice President of National Business Development, Dawn Hocevar, in her new elected role as President and Chair of Women In Bio (WIB), an organization that is committed to promoting leadership, careers and entrepreneurship for women in the life sciences industry.
“Dawn serves as a leader in all that she does,” said Bill VanDeWeghe, President and Chief Executive Officer of BioSurplus. “We are incredibly proud of Dawn as she takes on the role as president and chair of Women In Bio, and we strongly support the meaningful work this organization is doing to improve gender diversity in life science organizations.”
Ms. Hocevar has been an integral member of BioSurplus’ business development team for more than a decade. As vice president, she takes the lead in strategic planning and developing partnerships with life sciences companies and universities.
Since 2011, Ms. Hocevar has actively volunteered with Women In Bio, helping to shape the national organization’s programming and executive development leadership initiatives. Among those initiatives is Boardroom Ready, an executive-level certification program that graduated its first-ever cohort of 20 women in 2016. BioSurplus recently named Theresa Matkovits, Ph.D., who was part of the inaugural class, to its Board of Directors. Dr. Matkovits is Senior Vice President and Head of Drug Development at ContraVir Pharmaceuticals Inc.
“I am very proud to have been elected as President and Chair of Women In Bio,” Ms. Hocevar said. “BioSurplus is a great company to work with, and I appreciate their continued support as I help Women In Bio provide women around the country with the resources and tools needed to succeed in this dynamic industry.”
Founded in 2002, BioSurplus is America’s preeminent buyer and reseller of preowned lab equipment. Customers can shop from anywhere using the BioSurplus online store, online auctions or at our two California showrooms. BioSurplus purchases late-model working lab instruments from labs that no longer need them, and then passes on the savings of repurposed equipment to its customers. BioSurplus team members are carefully chosen for their scientific experience and background to ensure the proper marketing, selling and handling of a wide range of specialized laboratory instruments. BioSurplus is dedicated to maximizing the value and use of laboratory equipment for both its buying and selling customers.
BioSurplus is headquartered in San Diego and has lab equipment showrooms and warehouses in San Diego and San Francisco. For more information, please visit us at www.BioSurplus.com.
Senior Vice President
Centrifuges are integral components of processing, research and development, and medical labs. Most scientists already know what they need for centrifugation, but successfully buying pre-owned equipment can require extra considerations. Here are some strategic and technical tips for quickly finding the right centrifuge and rotor.
Eppendorf 5804R, BSIID: 2029480
1. Browse early
The most common hurdle in buying pre-owned centrifuges is matching the right centrifuge with the right rotor and adapters. To give yourself the time to find the perfect fit, start looking as soon as you can. Some resellers accept wishlists and will search for your desired centrifuge and rotor combination through their sourcing network, often finding you the right equipment much faster than you can independently.
2. Look for name brands
Another way to expedite finding the right centrifuge and rotor combination is by actively pursuing name brands (which really won’t be difficult). The overwhelming majority of centrifuges in BioSurplus’ inventory are from Beckman Coulter, Eppendorf, Thermo Fisher Scientific (including Jouan, Heraeus, and Sorvall lines), and VWR. This means rotors, adapters, consumables, and replacement parts for these brands are also more readily available. Additionally, should any technical issues arise years later when the manufacturer no longer supports the equipment, many third-party service companies continue to specialize in these brands. Even if this may mean a more expensive initial purchase, it will be the better long-term investment.
3. Anticipate future growth
To put this another way, balance your current needs with where you see your lab going in the future. For example, we see many start-ups buy a great centrifuge only to come back soon after because they need refrigeration. Centrifuges are integral to pretty much every lab department, so you may be in a situation where you should buy a versatile centrifuge with numerous rotors and a wide range of speeds so you don’t need to shop again (or waste valuable lab space).
Beckman 70.1 Ti rotor, BSIID: 3014635
This point should go without saying, but we’re still including it because it’s easily the most important. With all pre-owned equipment, you need to know what you’re getting, and that includes a functionality and quality assessment. Reputable resellers will be honest and forthcoming with any damages, missing parts, or operational failures to ensure you’re getting the best equipment for your needs, even if you’re only buying for parts.
2. RPM vs. RCF
RPM (revolutions per minute) is a measure of how fast the centrifuge rotor rotates. RCF (relative centrifugal force) is the force exerted upon the rotor’s contents. Although this seems basic, online centrifuge descriptions may only specify maximum RPM, but the maximum RCF a rotor will withstand can be more important. Research what rotor options are available for the centrifuge that seems have the right RPM range. If you can’t find the information independently, the reseller’s service department should be able to get that information for you.
3. Electrical requirements
Approximately 85% of our centrifuges run on 110/115/120 V (50-60 Hz). The remaining 15% are floor, standing, or occasional benchtop models that operate at 220/230 V. Although this means it’s generally safe to assume the voltage for micro and benchtop centrifuges, scientists upgrading to a floor model may not consider the corresponding upgrade in electrical requirements. Confirm the electrical requirements with your sales representative, and make sure your facility has the right outlets to accommodate the higher voltage.
What else do you look for when shopping for centrifuges? Tell us in the comments below!
SAN DIEGO, Jan. 24, 2017 — BioSurplus, America’s preeminent buyer and reseller of preowned lab equipment, has appointed Theresa Matkovits, Ph.D., and Tina Lai Liedtky to its board of directors, bringing in two executives with deep experience that spans the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.
“The knowledge that Dr. Matkovits and Ms. Lai Liedtky bring to our board will be incredibly valuable as we continue to expand our offerings to life science companies and universities,” said Bill VanDeWeghe, President and Chief Executive Officer of BioSurplus. “Our new board members bring a sophisticated level of industry knowledge and experience that will help us better serve our customers.”
Theresa Matkovits, Ph.D.
Theresa Matkovits has global drug development and commercialization leadership experience spanning global, multinational pharmaceutical companies to small biotech start-ups. She currently serves as Senior Vice President, Head of Drug Development at ContraVir Pharmaceuticals Inc., where she leads the world-wide development activities for the company’s antiviral pipeline. Theresa has previously held numerous worldwide, international drug development leadership roles at Novartis, The Medicines Company, and NPS Pharmaceuticals, which encompassed leading the successful development and registration of a number of now globally commercialized medicines in the antiinfective, CNS, and orphan disease areas. Theresa was recently selected to participate in Women in Bio’s “Boardroom-Ready Program” for executive women in Life Sciences, sponsored by George Washington University. Theresa is a board member for Center Point Clinical Services LLC, a specialty contract research organization for pharmaceutical and medical device companies. She holds a doctorate degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Alfred University.
Tina Lai Liedtky
Tina Lai Liedtky has broad experience building, growing, and managing large operations within the medical device and diagnostics industries. She currently serves as Vice President, Global Marketing and Product Development of the Cardiometabolic business unit at Alere Inc., which develops rapid diagnostic tests to improve health and economic outcomes. She has also served as Vice President, Global Marketing at Lombard Medical Inc. and Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at Covidien. She is a board member of the Harvard Business School Alumni Club of San Diego; was an advisory board member of the Michael Hoefflin Foundation, which focuses on childhood cancer; and founded Social Capital Philanthropists, an organization supporting grassroots philanthropy. Ms. Lai Liedtky received her Master of Business degree in Business Administration and Management from Harvard Business School, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Princeton University.
Founded in 2002, BioSurplus is America’s preeminent buyer and reseller of preowned lab equipment. Customers can shop from anywhere using the BioSurplus online store, online auctions or visit us in California in one of our two showrooms. BioSurplus purchases late model working lab instruments from labs that no longer need them, and then passes on the savings of repurposed equipment to its customers. The BioSurplus team is carefully chosen for their scientific experience and background to ensure the proper marketing, selling and handling of a wide range of laboratory instruments. BioSurplus is dedicated to maximizing the value and use of laboratory equipment for both its buying and selling customers.
BioSurplus is headquartered in San Diego and has lab equipment showrooms and warehouses in San Diego and San Francisco. For more information, please visit our website at www.BioSurplus.com.
While headlines in 2016 were largely dominated by the tumultuous political climate, notable celebrity deaths (RIP Princess Leia), and myriad global crises, there were plenty of scientific developments that caught our attention. An HIV vaccine was cleared for clinical trials, Zika continues to spread, and we finally have images of gravitational waves.
As the year comes to a close, here are five story lines to continue following in 2017.
The Heroes of CRISPR and the CRISPR/Cas-9 patent dispute
Wildpixel, iStock photo, via Sciencenews.org
The CRISPR/Cas-9 ownership debate is fairly reminiscent of siblings running to their parents for the front seat in a car ride: she called first dibs in the living room, but he got to the driver first. Media attention boomed after Cell published MIT biologist Eric S. Lander’s articleThe Heroes of CRISPR. Many readers, including Jennifer Doudna of UC Berkeley, disagreed with his depiction of the gene-splicing tool’s history, especially in combination with his Broad Institute affiliation and the ongoing patent battle.
At this point, it’s not a question of whether or not the technology will be patented, but when, and what hurdles or royalty costs researchers outside of the winning institution will face.
Recreational marijuana legalization in California and Massachusetts
Jeffrey Thompson, MPR News, via blogs.mprnews.org
Although California and Massachusetts aren’t the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, they house three massive biotech clusters, all of which have preliminary entry into the industry due to both states’ long-standing medical marijuana legislation. It is too early to tell exactly how a wider consumer base will affect some of the industry’s existing struggles such as federal regulations, banking, and investor confidence, but startups’ hopes are high (pun intended).
21st Century Cures Act and the Cancer Moonshot Initiative
The 21st Century Cures Act is bipartisan legislation that allocates training, funds, and awards to biomedical researchers and national institutions, most likely to play out as a rejuvenating shot to academia and innovative startups. In addition to provisions for HHS and CMS, the bill includes increased funds for the NIH and the development of a Capstone Grant program to incentivize and accelerate innovative healthcare.
Additionally, the executive branch recently announced the execution of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative to further oversee and encourage oncology research. Spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden, the initiative promotes collaboration between the National Cancer Advisory Board and the newly-created Cancer Moonshot Task Force to advocate scientifically-sound ambitions and goals.
Any other biotech news stories from 2016 we should have mentioned? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Women in Bio President Elect Dawn Hocevar will be on hand at the upcoming Liftstream diversity conference in Cambridge, MA to showcase WiB’s Boardroom Ready initiative. The program, which is designed to address the dearth of female members on corporate boards, will utilize the platform of the event to present the first participants and promote the initiative at large. To learn more about Boardroom Ready, the Liftstream conference, and Women in Bio, click the links below.