RE: Closet biologists story

From: Emlyn O'regan (
Date: Wed Jan 23 2002 - 15:43:01 MST

This is kind of intriguing. It looks like a decent micro microbiology setup
is on the same financial order as a good audio setup was a decade or two
ago. Also, I'd guess there are ways to squeeze the cost down (while likely
making rather severe compromises).

Another whole world of geekdom I've never been aware of till now. <Rubs
hands together>

Kind of puts into perspective fears about basement nanotech setups. It'll
happen, wont it?


Robert wrote:
> Seriously though, there are a number of ways to lower costs. One is
> to make friends with a scientist in Russia or China. You can probably
> get the reagents made by firms within those countries sent to
> them, then
> reshiped to you and pay significantly less. Quality does become a
> concern however (though the problems present in the mid-'90s have
> probably improved significantly). I think at one time some 20-30%
> of the enzymes being sold by NEB were actually manufactured in Russia.
> There are some hefty costs you are missing when you attempt to scale
> from a simple microbiology lab to a molecular biology lab.
> a) Water purification: $3000-5000
> b) -80 deg freezer: $3000-5000
> c) Sterilizer: $1000-$15000
> d) Incubator: $2000-$5000
> e) Centrifuge(s): $1000-$7000
> f) PCR apparatus: $2000-$4000
> f) Microscope: $400+
> g) Hood: $3000+
> Of course the high end prices are for more serious work. But I'd
> guess for serious molecular biology work the minimum entry costs
> are probably $30-40K. It would be interesting to see what the
> lowest costs would be and how you might make compromises. A google on
> "high school molecular biology lab" might turn up some
> interesting ideas.
> The unfortunate part of this is that although I think things like
> lab-on-a-chip could decrease your operating scale and therefore lower
> experimental costs, I don't really see trends that will decrease
> the minimum entry costs anytime soon.

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