Well, new to us at least.
Over the past couple of months, we’ve been lucky enough to absorb an adjacent lab’. Up to now, our main lab’ was 7420, at the bottom center on the plan shown below, with a small cell culture room in the back (20A). We also used the lab’ next door (7424) on the same corridor, but this was problematic because there’s no connecting door. For security reasons the adjacent lab had to be locked when unoccupied, so to get there meant removing gloves and fiddling with keys while carrying an ice bucket. Another problem – we were using the back room (20A) for animal work, but because it’s a dedicated cell culture room, it has positive air pressure. So, all the dander and allergens and other gunk would float out into the main lab. Not good when you’re allergic to mice!
The cost to open a doorway between the 2 big labs was prohibitive, but for a while we’d been aware there was an old connecting door to the lab behind us (7512 on the plan). That room was used by Alan Smrcka ‘s group as a student office and general storage room, and the door was simply blocked on both sides with drywall and a few wooden shelves/cabinets. The lab’ once belonged to a former Dept. chair, but was never officially decommissioned when he retired a few years ago, so the cupboards were full of old supplies, chemicals and defunct equipment. So, we approached Alan and he very generously agreed to a swap – room 7512 in exchange for 7424. After a few weeks of construction dust, we now have a new lab, and finally 3 rooms of contiguous space. It wasn’t quite like this but you get the idea…
The new space is nothing short of a revelation for the way we work. We now have a simple arrangement with in-vivo stuff in the new room (7512), cell stuff in the middle, and biochemistry in the main lab at the front. The great thing is there’s a fume hood in the new room, so we can keep allergen exposures to a minimum elsewhere in the lab. Also now the cell culture room (20A) with positive air pressure can finally serve its intended purpose.
Here’s what’s left of the connecting door, looking through from the new lab’ into the cell culture room. On the right is our cardiomyocyte preparation rig, making it easy to transfer the freshly prepared cells into the cell culture hood and incubator. There’s still some finish work to be done on the floor and the bench-edges.
This is now our perfusion bench. On the left is the surgical area with dissecting scope, ventilator, EKG, thermal pad etc. Then on the right are two separate Langendorff heart perfusion rigs. There’s a third rig out of view, on the opposite side of the new lab. Due to fire regulations we’re not allowed to use the top shelves near the ceiling for storage, so those are blocked off.
We also relocated our HPLC to the new lab. Here it is next to the fume hood…
In the cell culture room we now have our 2 seahorses – XF24 and XF96. This used to be the bench where all our perfusion gear was. You can also see the gas perfusion system mounted on the shelf – we do some fun things involving flooding the plates inside the seahorse with argon gas, as reported here.
Here’s another view of the cell culture room showing the hood, with the seahorse bench on the left…
During the reshuffle we were able to divest some old equipment that was broken no longer being used. A key piece was our Aviv Model 14 spectrophotometer, which Jack Aviv himself came to collect. It had served us well, and was the source of several publications, but had sat unused for many years and took up a lot of space. Here it is in the back of Jack’s van…
The other thing this move allowed us to do, was consolidate our refrigeration in the front lab’, so now we have 4C, -20C and -80C all in one place.
Most of the demo’ work was done by UR facilities, plus moving electrical panels, putting in new floor tiles to bridge the gap, some HVAC work to balance out the flows, removal of old telephone lines, replacing all the fluorescent light tubes etc. Some things we did ourselves – for example we used the opportunity to do some paint touch-up throughout the lab (the drywall was pretty beaten up in places). Here’s our technician Bill hard at work – this is how we roll!
Environmental Health Sciences also helped us to dispose of the various chemicals through the hazardous waste program. We managed to fill 3 dumpsters with old equipment and supplies from the cupboards of the 7512 lab – a bonus for the Department is the lab is now clean and no longer a hazard liability.
Like all moves this one was pretty disruptive, but the new space really works well. The 3 Langendorff rigs are already cranking out data. Having all the cell culture stuff in one room means less contamination. No more messing with gloves and keys to get between labs. The new lab has a door leading out to the elevator lobby, which gives us another fire escape route, plus that’s where the bathrooms are located so it’s easier to go answer the call of nature during experiments! All in all a very worthwhile process.