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When one lab’s “rubbish” becomes another’s research equipment

Here on Scope, we often write about the "ah-ha moments" -- medical advancements and tools produced by research done at Stanford’s School of Medicine. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t also cover another common byproduct of scientific research: stuff.

Excess items such as beakers, pipettes, biohazard suits, office chairs and even the occasional The Who cassette tape tend to accumulate in busy labs. But what if instead of throwing out these surplus items, they could be given a second lease of life in another lab? That's the idea behind a campus-wide lab swap here.

“As older labs accumulate stuff, newer labs need some of these basic things to start out," said graduate student Chelsea Longwell in a recent Stanford news story on the annual event. "This is a way of not tossing out perfectly good items."

More than 100 labs participated in the first lab swap, which took place in 2015 and saved an estimated $100,000 in research-related costs. The 2016 lab swap event saved an estimated $60,000, and this year's event had a similarly strong turnout with more than 100 labs and more than 150 people joining in to donate and scavenge for lab equipment and supplies.

“Hearing that type of response was empowering and made it feel like we really did make a single-day impact,” said graduate student Trinidad Cisnero, a former intern in Stanford’s Office of Sustainability and one of the swap organizers.

Previously: Stanford bioengineer develops a 50-cent paper microscope
Video by Stanford News Service

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