Tuesday, January 6, 2009

How to choose - Part I

I am constantly reviewing new flow cytometry related technology, and I must admit, it's a pretty fun part of the job. So, over the years I think I've developed some strategies for choosing the proper piece of equipment which I will attempt to share in this "How to Choose" series. The Flow Cytometry Facility was recently awarded a Shared Instrumentation Grant from the NIH to purchase the LSRII it has been leasing for the past 8 months (see previous post for details). In approaching the original plan to acquire a new high-end analyzer, I went through this time-consuming process of evaluating multiple pieces of equipment in order to decide which one to get. Therefore, I will attempt to outline some of the key aspects which can hopefully translate to technology and equipment outside of flow cytometry. In general, the steps for choosing the proper instrument include, 1. Query your user base, 2. Establish selection criteria, 3. Research available technologies, 4. Match available technology with criteria, 5. Weigh non-technical aspects of ownership (e.g. Service, Infrastructure Necessities, Space, etc.), and 6. Test the instrument with real samples. I've gone through this process for equipment as complex as cell sorters, and as simple as incubators, and every time I feel the proper decision was made. The next few postings will detail the specifics of each of these 6 steps, so be sure to check back soon for an update.