Clinical research determines the safety and effectiveness of medications, devices, diagnostic products and treatment regimens intended for human use. Setting up a clinical research laboratory involves dealing with many challenges.
Topping the list is purchase of lab equipment. Lower purchase costs, lower operating costs, increased accuracy and easier-to-operate capabilities are major factors to be considered while setting up a new system. Major equipment purchasing decisions have to be made diligently. For instance, it is necessary to check if the lab has space for a portable model of a particular instrument or whether a space-saving benchtop is a better option. Other major factors to consider while purchasing laboratory equipment include:
- Managing the budget: Most labs have budget constraints and purchase of instruments has to be done with this in mind. Established lab equipment suppliers offer top quality products at competitive rates. New equipment is likely to be costly and purchasing re-certified devices could be a feasible option. Labs can also consider the reagent rental option offered by leading distributors which allow labs to purchase instruments without paying up-front for them. A side-by-side comparison of the different makes and models can simplify the decision-making process. Initial purchase price, long-term ownership cost, laboratory layout and workstation design, and supplier support service and flexibility should also be considered.
- Warranty: Warranty period varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. After that warranty period expires, consider what service contract terms and conditions are available and at what cost. Is the service contract long- or short-term? A service contract can include many services beyond a general warranty such as software updates, calibration, certification, preventative maintenance, priority service, and/or additional discounts on upgrades.
- Maintenance service: The cost of repairing or replacing the individual parts on a piece of laboratory equipment is sometimes greater than the cost of replacing the entire piece of equipment. Economical maintenance contracts offered by lab equipment suppliers with features such as on-site visits by a technician and in-house service and repairs are very useful in this context.
Closed or separate laboratory spaces are often necessary for certain functions because of the nature of the operation, equipment needs, or security concerns. Other challenges in setting up a research lab include:
- Recruitment of skilled staffing
- Safety and security
- Lab design and construction
- Implementation of new science and technology capabilities
Energy efficiency, operating costs, researcher productivity and the minimization of waste products and construction materials are some of the essential sustainability components in the operation of the modern research lab. Advanced technologies are continually employed in the lab to solve problems, improve existing solutions and help achieve the goals set by and for researchers. Using lab instruments that can produce accurate, timely results is necessary to improve diagnosis for better patient care.