When you think about starting a new experiment, you probably think: Exciting, daunting, hopeful, time-consuming, challenging…
You may also think:
I need to have all my supplies together.
I hope my experiment is well-designed with necessary controls.
I hope I can execute this with no hiccups.
I hope I get good data.
How about the process before starting the experiment? All those mental decisions BEFORE even placing an order? I know, groan.
. . .
You might be able to relate to this process…
Before even beginning a new cell culture experiment, I will need…
1. Cell culture media with Fetal Bovine Serum
Task: FBS is so expensive. I want a cheaper alternative.
● Wow, Millipore Sigma has about 10 options. So does Thermo Fisher. Why different costs?
● Why do I have to click on each item to get pricing?
● Is there a way to compare products?
● FBS is just FBS, right? Should I just pick the cheapest one and hope for the best?
● On second thought, maybe I should use what we’ve always used.
● But I can save $200/bottle….
● If something goes wrong with my experiment, then that will waste my time. I might as well stick to what I know.
● Unavailable!! No!!! I guess I’ll pick the cheaper option and cross my fingers.
2. Sterile DMSO
Task: I need a highly pure DMSO as a vehicle, which is a common organic solvent, but I
also need it to be cell culture friendly.
● There are several options through Sigma but can they be used for cell culture?
● There is an option for cell culture but I am not sure about its purity.
● *Opens spec sheet for each option for further reading*
● *Clicks, clicks, clicks*
● According to this spec sheet, the option we use for organic synthesis can be sterilized for cell culture if I use a sterile filter…
● Maybe I should consult Google again.
● Back to square one. Maybe I’ll just order the 99.9% pure DMSO that I will sterilize myself.
3. ELISA kit
Task: I need a specific ELISA kit that I do not have personal experience with.
● The reference paper does not say where they ordered the ELISA kit! Sigh.
● Wow, several to choose from. Why the huge price range?
● What’s the assay range? Sensitivity? What kind of antibody do they use? What end of the protein does it recognize? Cross-reactivity? How long will the assay take?
● *Creates detailed spreadsheet*
● Well, the cheapest kit satisfies my criteria but I am not sure if I can trust it? Has anyone published on it?
● Maybe I will order this moderately expensive kit that has been cited a few times.
Task: We ran out of the special tubes. My supervisor just asked me to see if there are
cheaper alternatives because we’ve just been blowing through them.
● Let me pull up our preferred vendors…
● And *Google*…
● Here’s a cheap one. But how do I know that it’s good quality and that the plastic won’t break? Is it pre-sterilized?
● Maybe I’ll just order a small batch and perhaps stick to what we know for now.
● Wait, these tubes are out of stock too?
● Hmmmm, maybe I’ll try the cheaper one…
. . .
Well folks, I am exhausted. I just spent half the day deciding on what to get for this new
experiment. All these browser tabs are making my head spin. I wish there was an easier way to decide on products or alternatives so I can actually be excited about beginning my experiment!