The Life of a Research Laboratory Manager- Spotlight

Posted by Ewa Truchanowicz in News | 0 comments

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Anthony Clarke, Senior Laboratory Manager

The Innovation Laboratory is the responsibility of the Senior Laboratory Manager Anthony Clarke, whose role is a constantly evolving one at the moment, as the vast array of different equipment is gradually commissioned. A typical day can involve everything from paperwork to dummy runs in the autoclave.

He says, “This job is an incredible opportunity. These are commercially serviced labs that are offering superb facilities for applied research and proof of concept testing. We don’t know what exciting biomedical idea is going to come through that door – and that’s the joy of the job.”

The crucial aspect of his role, for Anthony, is the safety of the research laboratory environment and the safe use of the shared equipment. He is also the on-site expert for the tenants to refer to for training and equipment operation. Clean, calibrated and working equipment are the other main responsibilities of the Laboratory Managers.

To aid the Laboratory Managers, The BioHub will feature a state-of-the-art equipment monitoring system, which will check all the low temperature storage for compliance, and uses WiFi connectivity to a remote safe server.

Anthony said,

“When there’s 18 refrigerators and 13 freezers holding precious materials for your tenants you need to be sure everything is functioning well!”

Complementing the -80°C and -152°C freezers provided for tenants, a high specification Cryo Room keeps two liquid Nitrogen freezers at -180°C where the most extreme low temperature storage is sited. The specially fitted room has a top-up system from tanks situated outside and the Laboratory Manager checks the monitoring screens for fill-levels, correct temperature and that oxygen levels in the room are safe.

Two autoclaves are provided for tenants, and enable clean lab ware to be maintained as well as ensuring waste is completely safe before leaving the building. A high end glass-washer complete with on-board purified water system ensures glassware is ultra clean and always available.


BioHub Autoclave

The main purified water in the Innovation laboratory (18.2MΩ) supplies high quality water from a 75L reservoir. A ring main from a centralised purified water system to enable supply, on tap, in all the side laboratories and ultimately throughout The BioHub is currently being installed. This will bring the total purified water reservoir capacity to 600 litres.

The Fume Hoods and Biosafety cabinets (Class II) have to be compliant with statutory regulations and the Laboratory Manager must keep the necessary records; the less technical aspects of his daily role, and perhaps if pressed the least liked!

Balances and pipettes may not be the most glamorous of the equipment we supply for tenants, but they certainly are the most capable in terms of material measurement. We have a range of balances with different capabilities but the most impressive is the Microbalance which can measure down to 0.000001g or 1µg. To ensure absolute accuracy the balance is mounted on a marble plinth and is protected by a Perspex surround.

Anthony issues each tenant of the BioHub Birmingham with their own set of pipettes; 3 variables (0.5-10µL, 10-100µL and 100-1000µL) and an electronic pipette (30-300µL), and these form the standard equipment on each Lab Station, along with a Vortex mixer.

Anthony continued,

“All of the shared equipment needs delivering, installing and commissioning and I am responsible for supplier and engineer liaison. The good relationships that have been established are essential to the future smooth running of The BioHub.”

Innovation laboratory

BioHub Innovation Laboratory

Part of the wider Laboratory Manager’s role is the enjoyable activity of establishing a strong bond with the tenants and balancing a ‘policing’ aspect with that of a mentor or trainer. He responds quickly to their needs and supplies technical support or advice when required.

All of the shared equipment we provide for tenants is ‘top of the range’ and is of a value that start-ups would find difficult to finance for themselves.

“This is exactly why The BioHub Birmingham® at Birmingham Research Park is unique and illustrates our commitment to attracting biomedical and medtech companies to our facilities” said Anthony.

Tenants of The BioHub Birmingham benefit from business support services and facilities which BizzInn provides, just next door, and also have the advantage of access to the diverse network of businesses, research scientists and clinicians based at other adjacent life science venues. Probably the most compact biomedical hub in the UK!

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