I’m doing a bit of research for book chapter, and one of the things I was looking into, was how much exactly would it take for a layman to set up a functional molecular biology lab. With respect to this query, there are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Most molecular biology research is driven by the use of plastic ware, and various biological reagents. These are the sorts of things that need to bought fresh or brand new. Fortunately, most of it is also quite affordable from a layman point of view, and as previously demonstrated, you can easily purchase this stuff if you happen to have a credit card.
2. There are a number of pieces of equipment that require routine use. Although some, like a weigh balance and fridge are pretty cheap to buy new, most other types of equipment would begin to seriously add up. This arguably makes the endeavor of setting up a lab simply out of reach for layman sensibilities. For example, the sort of stuff you’ll probably need include.
Microcentrifuge – about $1500+
Pippetors – various volumes (new would cost about $300+ each)
Gel Box – about $500+
Powerpack – about $500+
Heating apparatus (dry heat) – about $600+
Incubator (ambient and up for e.coli work) – depending on size, at least $2000+
Transilluminator – about $700+
PCR machine – at least $2000 for a crappy one. Most reliable brands start at around $4000+
Unless, of course, you use eBay to do your shopping…
Now note that these are eBay results for today, does not include shipping fees, and as well, I tried to get the cheapest available that still looked functional and comparible to equipment used in a proper lab set-up (i.e. I know you can MacGyver certain things to work if you buy something that is considerably cheaper, but I decided to go with equipment that best mimicked what you would actually use)
Pipettors: p100, p1000, p10000 range: ($100.00 just realized this one hasn’t finished bidding, lets assume we end at about $100)
and one in the p10 range ($39.99)
Agarose gel box: ($99.99)
Dry heater: ($49.99)
Convection incubator: ($129.99)
UV Translluminator: ($299.95)
PCR thermal cycler: ($149.99)
Whoa – that adds up to $954.39 (this even includes the translluminator which happened to be the cheapest one I could find but still pretty expensive)!
Anyway, less than $1000, which is a little frightening actually.