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Prepare for 'That Rainy Day'

Over at her blog, Prodigal Academic discusses an issue that may be every research lab's worst nightmare — equipment breakdown. "It is, in fact, something that keeps me up at night: that my really expensive workhorse instrument will break, effectively shutting my group down until I can scrape up the money to fix it," she says. What's more, Prodigal Academic adds, is that faulty equipment often does more than just stall progress — repair costs can severely damage a lab's budget, especially if there hasn't been any money set aside for the unexpected. But the way in which labs are typically funded — primarily by "project-centered" grants — doesn't leave much wiggle room for major equipment repairs, or worse, replacement. So for the average lab, Prodigal Academic says, "it is often not-cost effective or practical … to have the money to pay maintenance contracts." And while she says funds for "simple" repairs can often be drawn from a lab's supplies budget, for most groups, "there is no way to really save up for a rainy day, when that rainy day is $15k or more in one shot." Prodigal Academic suggests that "these days, with labs unable to support existing personnel, let alone save something on the side for repair costs," perhaps instrument-centered grant mechanisms ought to include separate funds specifically for emergency repairs.

The Scan

Drug Response Variants May Be Distinct in Somatic, Germline Samples

Based on variants from across 21 drug response genes, researchers in The Pharmacogenomics Journal suspect that tumor-only DNA sequences may miss drug response clues found in the germline.

Breast Cancer Risk Gene Candidates Found by Multi-Ancestry Low-Frequency Variant Analysis

Researchers narrowed in on new and known risk gene candidates with variant profiles for almost 83,500 individuals with breast cancer and 59,199 unaffected controls in Genome Medicine.

Health-Related Quality of Life Gets Boost After Microbiome-Based Treatment for Recurrent C. Diff

A secondary analysis of Phase 3 clinical trial data in JAMA Network Open suggests an investigational oral microbiome-based drug may lead to enhanced quality of life measures.

Study Follows Consequences of Early Confirmatory Trials for Accelerated Approval Indications

Time to traditional approval or withdrawal was shorter when confirmatory trials started prior to accelerated approval, though overall regulatory outcomes remained similar, a JAMA study finds.