BioSurplus Blog & News

March 14, 2017

March 2, 2017

Women’s History Month in Science, Part 1

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

Merit Ptah, courtesy of

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

Nettie Stevens courtesy of

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.








Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012)

Rita Levi-Montalcini

Rita Levi-Montalcini courtesy of

Born in Turin, Italy to a Sephardic Jewish family in 1909, Rita Levi-Montalcini overcame both her father’s resistance to her education and World War II to pursue neurophysiological studies. Although she started in universities, she resorted to a make-shift lab in her basement to further her research when Benito Mussolini’s 1938 Manifesto of Race banned her from seeking an intellectual career. After the war, she accepted a residency at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where she worked for 30 years. She won the 1986 Nobel Prize for Medicine with biochemist Stanley Cohen for discovering nerve growth factor (NGF) and epidermal growth factor (EGF). Also, she helped form multiple foundations and institutions  and continued researching until her passing on December 30, 2012.






Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin is best known for her pioneering x-ray diffraction images showing the double helix structure of DNA. Before that, she worked as an associate research officer with the British Coal Utilization Research Association (CURA) and wrote her Ph.D. thesis on the porosity of coal. Famously, a dispute with her colleague led to her images suggesting DNA’s double-helix structure being leaked to rival scientists James Watson and Francis Crick. Watson and Crick received the Nobel Prize for “their work on the structure of DNA” 4 years after Rosalind Franklin died of ovarian cancer. Despite her young passing, she was heavily awarded posthumously for her studies of DNA.








Any women you want us to honor next week? Let us know in the comments below!


February 16, 2017

Analytical Balance Buying Guide

We know you know how to operate and maintain balances and scales, but the biggest challenge when shopping around is deciphering the jargon. Mettler Toledo has a great resource for understanding the technical terms, and here is a practical breakdown of the relevant specifications:

“D” value

Mettler Toledo model MS4002S/03 BSIID: 301-7661

Mettler Toledo model MS4002S/03
BSIID: 301-7661

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 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 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.

Legal standards

If your company makes their business by selling their product by weight, you may need to find legal-for-trade balances or scales. Legal-for-trade means the balance meets or exceeds the requirements needed for that industry. That being said, most analytical laboratories will not need to worry about this because they are not using their balances commercially.

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!


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February 2, 2017

Freezer and Refrigerator Buying Guide

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

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

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

Heavy Duty Conduit Box

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.


For more information on cold storage, see our “Lab Cold Storage” video and our cold storage selection and operation guide under our ultralow freezer category page.

What else do you look for in cold storage? Tell us in the comments below!


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January 31, 2017

BioSurplus Executive Dawn Hocevar Elected to Lead Influential Industry Organization, Women In Bio

wiblogoSAN 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.”

About BioSurplus

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

Media Contact:

Mark Corbae
Senior Vice President
Canale Communications
(619) 849-5375

January 26, 2017

Centrifuge and Rotor Buying Guide

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).


Technical considerations

Beckman 70.1 Ti rotor, BSIID: 3014635

    1. Functionality

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!

For more information on centrifuges, see our “Centrifuges at BioSurplus” video and our centrifuge selection and operation guide under our microcentrifuge category page.


Want to see more blog posts, equipment updates, and auction news from Biosurplus? Register for our mailing list here!


January 24, 2017

BioSurplus Appoints Theresa Matkovits, Ph.D., and Tina Lai Liedtky to its Board of Directors

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, 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

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.


About BioSurplus

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


December 29, 2016

Business in Biotech 2016: a Year in Review

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.



  1. The Heroes of CRISPR and the CRISPR/Cas-9 patent dispute

Wildpixel, iStock photo, via

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 article The 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.

  1. EpiPen price hike

    Roel Smart, iStock photo, via

After the Martin Shkreli debacle of 2015, sociopolitical awareness and debate concerning pharmaceutical pricing and ethics is more intense than ever. Under manufacturer Mylan’s ownership, the price of an EpiPen two-pack rose from $267 to $600 in just the past 3 years. Mylan isn’t the only pharmaceutical company raising drug prices, but its lack of competition in both emerging and existing alternatives has drawn criticism for being unethically arbitrary  and disregarding consumer reliance.  Mylan has since released coupons for their injectors and a $300 generic, but it remains to be seen if these efforts have redeemed the company in the eyes of consumers and lawmakers.

For his part, the so-called “Pharma Bro” Shkreli supports Mylan’s pricing, and has expressed willingness to testify in their defense.

  1. Theranos implosion

Jerod harris, TEDMED, via

Theranos’ early fingerstick blood testing device promised to revolutionize diagnostics. Although that may be the case in the future, significant setbacks such as CMS sanctions and CLIA license revocation, critical partnership termination, a criminal investigation, and a 40% workforce reduction rapidly eradicated their credibility and capital. It is still possible that their line of miniLab technology will fulfill the hopes of their micro-testing prototype, but that diagnostics empire will be put on hold.

  1. Recreational marijuana legalization in California and Massachusetts

Jeffrey Thompson, MPR News, via

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).

  1. 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!


Want to see more blog posts, equipment updates, and auction news from Biosurplus? Register for our mailing list here!

November 28, 2016

August 15, 2016

WiB Works to Develop Biotech Boardroom Diversity at Liftstream Annual Forum

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.