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The Penny-Pinching Lab

When funding dries up, that doesn't necessarily mean the lab has to wind down, writes Gail Seigel at Bitesize Bio. With a few tricks, she says that budgets can be stretched to perhaps make it to the next funding cycle.

First of all, Seigel says to stock up while you still have a grant: buy items like pipets, slides, and Petri dishes, they'll keep. Once the funds do go away, you can request free samples from companies — she says they are often quite happy to send some along, particularly if it's for a new product or new application of a product. In addition, she says it doesn't make much sense to order aluminum foil or hydrogen peroxide from a lab-supply company when you can get it for less at the grocery store.

Unfortunately, Seigel notes that some labs do close in lean times, but that often means their glassware and other items may be up for grabs — she advises being a "polite vulture."

At the same time, collaborating with another lab and pooling what resources you both have can also keep you going as well as bolster your publication list for the next grant cycle, Seigel adds.

Back in the day, GenomeWeb also suggested working with your core lab, repurposing household goods like a salad spinner as a centrifuge, and buying equipment secondhand. It likewise noted that sometimes there are bridge awards available from federal agencies or from academic institutions, if things have gotten dire.