Four Tips for Purchasing Research and Medical Laboratory Supplies

There is a lot that goes into organizing a medical experiment, which includes: knowing your study question, developing a hypothesis, extrapolating out the most promising experiment to address the inquiry, reasoning proper controls, and deciding if you have the resources to complete the experiment. When you eventually have things figured out, quite a bit goes into purchasing supplies for the experiment. Here are four tips that laboratory managers should evaluate before buying lab supplies for the upcoming critical investigation.

Create a list of the research or medical laboratory supplies you need

Have you ever assumed you had everything for an experiment or lab test or believed you ordered everything but only found that you needed one more thing? My suggestion is to create a protocol or game plan for the investigation and specify everything you will require. First, write down all the commodities in a list of supplies. Then identify which ones are already available in the lab and which will require purchasing. Taking some time to manage the front end will save you a lot of time and aggravation later on.

Explore your vendor options

You may have go-to vendors for specific reagents or medical laboratory supplies, but do other sellers offer just-as-good and more affordable alternatives? For example, multiple vendors may offer ELISA kits or antibodies in a similar collection of products. Certain merchants may offer discounted costs for bulk orders of lab consumables, like gloves or pipette tips. Some dealers may conduct special promotions. For funding goals or if you are looking to save some money, looking for alternative agents could potentially be valuable.

Review product specifications

Calculate what you need for the experiment or test and see if the product fits your needs by examining the product specification sheet. For instance, does the organic solvent need to be HPLC-grade? Does the antibody have to be monoclonal, or can you use polyclonal? Do the pipette tips have to be sterile? If so, then you will want to make sure that you look for sterile tips. Sometimes you might need to reach out to customer service for clarifications.

Read reviews and publications, or ask for referrals

How do you ensure that the product you intend to purchase is good? You might believe if a vendor is marketing the product, it should be good. Not always. Occasionally an antibody might not be 100% precise to your protein of interest, ending in a non-specific band on your Western blot. Periodically, an enzyme may not be able to cut the His-tag off your recombinant protein, despite it costing several hundred dollars per tube. That seems ridiculous, but it happens pretty often. So it is crucial to be mindful of other people’s thoughts about a product, just like a diner review on Yelp. What are other people saying about the antibody and its particularity? Have others received quality data and published it using this reagent or product? Are there distinct products that collaborators or associates recommend? Finding reviews, scouring publications, or asking others for guidance may take time, but locating a quality, dependable product will preserve a lot of time and aggravation, not to mention funds.

Follow these tips for purchasing your research or medical laboratory supplies. And, Contact us today for more information on the services we have to offer your lab.