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FASEB J. 1991 Oct;5(13):2756-60.

State-of-the-art biomolecular core facilities: a comprehensive survey.

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  • 1University of Wisconsin Biotechnology Center, Madison 53705.

Erratum in

  • FASEB J 1992 Jan 6;6(2):792.


A survey of 124 protein and/or nucleic acid chemistry facilities has provided a basis for estimating the resources needed to establish a facility, the financial support needed to keep it operating, and the technical capabilities it might reasonably be expected to achieve. Based on these data, an average core facility occupied 870 ft2, was staffed by three full-time personnel, and was equipped with 4-5 major instrument systems. Because user fees generated an average of about $101,000/year in income compared with an average operating budget of about $197,000/year, even a facility that charged user fees would, on average, still require an annual subsidy of about $96,000. Although most government and industrial core facilities did not assess user fees, at least 83 of the 124 respondents did have a preestablished schedule of service charges that enabled a compilation to be made of the average cost of providing a number of typical facility analyses and syntheses. The greater than 100-fold range in charges assessed in core facilities for seemingly identical services was shown to result from the equally large range in the degree of subsidization of these laboratories. Although an average facility might be expected to offer four or five of the following six major services--amino acid sequencing, amino acid analysis, HPLC peptide isolation, peptide synthesis, fragmentation of proteins and DNA synthesis--less than 10% of the responding laboratories provided mass spectrometry, capillary zone electrophoresis, or RNA synthesis. With the exception of peptide synthesis, which had an average turn-around time of about 24 days, all other major services had turn-around times that averaged in the range of 4-9 days. Additional data are summarized regarding average sample throughput in core laboratories and the amount of protein that is needed for hydrolysis/amino acid analysis and sequencing.

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