Participate in the Core Rigor and Reproducibility Survey

The Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF) Committee on Core Rigor and Reproducibility (CCoRRe) is conducting a global worldwide survey to learn how scientific cores or other shared resource facilities generate transparent, rigorous and reproducible research data.  The results of this survey will help the committee implement its mission to support shared resource facilities and their commitment to reproducible research. To participate use this web link,

We encourage you to forward this survey to other groups who may be interested in participating.  All responses will be anonymized. The survey results will be presented at the ABRF 2017 Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 25-28. We hope you can join us to discuss this important topic.

Take FASEB’s Shared Research Resources Survey and share your perspective as a user or provider!

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) wants to learn about your experiences with shared research resources. Please complete this survey by March 2, 2017.

The questions in this 10-15 minutes survey focus on the following topics: (1) resource utilization and unmet needs; (2) the role of facilities in providing access to resources; (3) sources of funding and support for resources; (4) careers in resource provision and development as well as training on best practices. Your feedback will help inform FASEB’s policy positions and recommendations.

Please share this survey link widely with other biological researchers! FASEB is collecting responses from resource users and providers in the US. Survey link:

Strengthening and Promoting the ABRF LMRG network at the FOM2016 meeting

By Erika (Tse-Luen) Wee, ABRF Light Microscopy Research Group (LMRG) Chair, McGill University

Recently, Erika (Tse-Luen) Wee, ABRF Light Microscopy Research Group (LMRG) Chair, traveled to a conference in Taipei, Taiwan.  There, she presented a poster on research efforts being made within her ABRF research group.  In turn, she found and generated interest in what it means to be an ABRF member.  Below is her story.

The Focus on Microscopy 2016 Conferencewas recently held in Taipei, Taiwan, and organized by Prof. G.J. (Fred) Brakenhoff from the University of Amsterdam, and Prof. Fu-Jen Kao from the National Yang-Ming University. This annual conference series was started in 1988 by Andres Kriete in Giessen, Germany, and has over the years welcomed a growing number of researchers, principal investigators, core facilities managers, and exhibitors from all over the world.

The theme of the meeting this year was brain imaging, as well as a special focus on correlated light and electron microscopy. Other topics included super-resolution, fluorescence probes, light sheet, image processing/analysis, new developments in confocal, non-linear optics and lasers, all of which are hot topics and in high demand in light microscopy core facilities today.

The focus of the FOM2016 meeting had strong relevance to current LMRG studies. Being the current LMRG Chair, I had a poster presentation on the current LMRG study (#3), as well as the previous two studies conducted by the LMRG from previous years. The poster presentation was very well received, and stimulated a lot of discussion about LMRG and most importantly, the ABRF.Untitled.1

These interactions provided a great opportunity to increase awareness of the ABRF and to demonstrate how the Association provides a forum for networking and sharing. I was very surprised to see many Canadians and Australians attending the conference alongside the more common European attendants and microscopy vendors from Asia and Europe. It was a very nice opportunity to network with microscopists from around the world, and to promote membership with the ABRF in an effort to bridge the gap between Asia, Europe and the US communities. Several individuals at the conference, including participants from Singapore, Italy, Japan, and Germany expressed their interests in participating in the LMRG study and joining the ABRF, and we very much look forward to future discussions.

One of the main highlights was the invitation talk “Challenges and Tradeoffs in Modern Fluorescence Imaging Methods” from Eric Betzig, the Nobel Prize Winner in 2014. This is one of the best presentations I have attended recently; it was truly insightful and educational. The main focus of his talk was to compare the strengths and weaknesses of different microscopy modalities as applied to different biological problems and how to avoid artifacts caused by labeling, fixation, specimen motion, and image processing. This presentation content echoed perfectly with the LMRG mission: “To promote scientific exchange between researchers, define & improve relative testing standards that will assist core managers and users in the maintaining their microscopes for optimal operation”.

UntitledIn the end, I am very thrilled to see that FOM2016 had taken place in my home town of Taipei, Taiwan, and very honored to be able to represent ABRF here. Taipei is one of the political, economic, and cultural hubs of Asia. As a global city, it has great dynamics, diversity, and insightfulness in regards to culture, politics, high-end technologies, and impressive research programs. And of course, the food was amazing!

This trip would not have been possible without the generous support of ABRF and McGill University.  I would like to thank ABRF Executive Board members Peter Lopez and Frances Weis-Garcia for their amazing assistance and support of LMRG, and I also would like to thank Claire Brown and Rich Cole for their mentorship and guidance.

ABRF Launches Annual Biomolecular Research Laboratory Census

abrf_2016_surveySubmitted by:  Christopher Colangelo

From 1989 to 2000, ABRF conducted and published 12 surveys on job Compensation and Employment in the biotechnology core laboratory. These surveys had a major impact on helping scientists, administrators, and NIH to promote the growth of core laboratory worldwide. As a way to continue this rich tradition, the current ABRF Executive Board and I have developed and relaunched an industry-wide Annual Biomolecular Research Laboratory Census.

The goal of this census is to learn about salary and employment trends in the biomolecular research laboratory marketplace, both non- and for-profit. The confidential census data will provide respondents the ability to benchmark their biomolecular research laboratory against others, both now and in the future, as well as help ABRF strengthen professional opportunities and employment-related incentives for biotechnology resource facilities. Census results will be made available to the industry via a peer reviewed research article and on the ABRF website.

Participation in this census is voluntary and we anticipate the census will take only 5-7 minutes to complete. We aim to collect data from as many research labs as possible and 100% participation from our current ABRF membership. Respondent identities will remain strictly confidential and all information will be analyzed in aggregate.

To participate in the census, please click HERE. The initial deadline for completing the census is June 15.

Best Practices for Core Facilities: Perspectives from the NIH, Vendors, and You.

imagesAs the ABRF 2016 Annual Meeting came to a close there was resounding discussion on best practices in science, data, and core facilities. As many learned by attending the two day ABRF Business Skills Workshop that preceded the ABRF Annual Meeting  in Ft. Lauderdale, there is a lot more that goes into running a core than just knowing the science associated with it. Simply put, running a core is a small business operation that must abide by higher oversight from not only the Institution to which it is associated, but also the NIH. With so much oversight and non-scientific aspects associated with running a core, the overarching question becomes, what are the best operational practices associated with running a core facility? Other questions follow such as: How can one run a core and still focus on the science at hand? How much of a business orientation should be required of the core director? What is expected of a core? Unfortunately, and given that there are so many variables that come into play, there is no one answer to these questions. The  NIH FAQ is key resource for understanding what a core facility is from the NIH perspective. Additional references provided below may be able to guide or help you to generate discussion to find solutions to those answers to help your Institution develop their stance on what a core facility is in general.

Immediately following the ABRF 2016 Annual Meeting, GenoLogics posted a blog to flag for core facility administrators four key aspects in being an efficient core facility: Be Different, Integrate, Automate, and Measure. Questions surrounding benchmarking also come into play when discussing best practices. Many of these benchmarking measures are offered through the iLab Solutions Bench Marking Surveys, which provide for a good starting point and a reference guide for you to build your own survey to understand those important measures in order to increase your cores sustainability.

For additional reading, the papers referenced below have been published throughout journals from our peers ranging from understanding technical challenges in a core to understanding how to best and safely work with External Customers in your core.

  1. K R Williams, R L Niece, D Atherton, A V Fowler, R Kutny and A J Smith (1988). The size, operation, and technical capabilities of protein and nucleic acid core facilities. The FASEB Journal.  2: 3124-3130.
  2. R L Niece, C M Beach, R F Cook, G M Hathaway and K R Williams (1991). State-of-the-art biomolecular core facilities: a comprehensive survey. The FASEB Journal.  5: 2756-2760.
  3. P Hockberger, S Meyn, C Nicklin, D Tabarini, P Turpen, and J Auger (2013) Best Practices for Core Facilities: Handling External Customers.  J Biomol Tech. 24: 87–97.
  4. Paula B. Turpen, Philip E. Hockberger, Susan M. Meyn, Connie Nicklin, Diane Tabarini, Julie A. Auger (2016)  Metrics for Success: Strategies for Enabling Core Facility Performance and Assessing Outcomes. J Biomol Tech. 2016 Apr; 27(1): 25–39.
  5. Michael Chang, Franziska B. Grieder (2016)  Sharing Core Facilities and Research Resources—An Investment in Accelerating Scientific Discoveries.  J Biomol Tech. 2016 Apr; 27(1): 2–3.

ABRF 2016 Annual Meeting featured in Instrument Business Outlook (IBO)



Press coverage of the ABRF 2016 Annual Meeting drew accolades from the Instrument Business Outlook (IBO) in their February 29, 2016 issue (see page 7). The intent behind the article was for IBO to report on the growing attendance at the meeting, as well as the sessions and conversations among attendees from the lab manager perspective.

In summary, attendance increased for the third year in a row with 559 attendees and 237 exhibitors. Over the course of three days, 45 presentations and workshops were offered to attendees that addressed 5 topic areas: imaging, core administration, genomics, proteomics, and trending topics.

“ABRF 2016 provided an expanded program and the perfect venue for bringing together core facility professionals to get cutting edge information from vendors, scientific sessions and workshops,” says ABRF President William Hendrickson.  “We continue to update the meeting every year to make sure attendees have ample opportunity to interact with scientists, company representatives and core managers. ABRF 2016 epitomized the meeting tagline: Innovative Technologies Accelerating Discoveries.”

The February 29, 2016 issue of IBO is provided on a one-time complimentary basis for ABRF members and the ABRF community. To subscribe to IBO, please send an email to



Highlights of MWACD 2015 Kansas City, MO Oct 28-31st

Fountains dyed Royal blue, crisp fall weather and core directors wearing spiky, brightly colored wigs talking science and management can only mean one thing…The 6th annual meeting of the Midwest Association of Core Directors in Kansas City, MO!  Royals World Series fever and the festivities of Halloween added to the atmosphere of the meeting which kicked off Thursday night with a fabulous Halloween-themed Social event at the Stowers Institute sponsored by Illumina.  Performances by Voler Thieves of Flight added to magic of the evening and a costume contest added to the humor of the evening at the expense of our colleagues.  Congratulations to our Costume contest winners:  David & Dorris McCarter (1st), Cole Price (2nd) and Chris Wright (3rd)!

Thursday events kicked off with the administrators’ workshop where we explored the topics of core facility careers and web initiatives.  Attendees could also attend a single cell science workshop given by Nathan Salomonis and Lee Grimes which was offered in parallel.  In the afternoon, attendees visited the Stowers Institute for Medical Research where 16 different cores and central support services discussed their technologies and approaches for doing core science.

Friday events kicked off with a welcome from MWACD president, Karen Staehling, and ABRF president, Bill Hendrickson.  Are you a core director with problems?  Well the next session would have been for you!  For the “Group Problem Solving” Session attendees were divided into small round table groups where they were given a problem to solve as a group.  Corporate sponsors were encouraged to join the groups and their insight was much appreciated! The problems varied from marketing approaches to performance reviews to cross core collaborative projects.  One member of each group then presented a flash talk on possible solutions.  Kudos to Nichole White and David McCarter for organizing a successful session who’s format we will repeat again. Platinum sponsor talks, scientific breakout sessions and a panel discussion on LIMS rounded out the day.  In the evening, Jorge Cham of Ph.D. comics reminded us of the value of procrastination in our own geeky version of a comedy club.

We ended the meeting earlier on Saturday due to Halloween but our 3 sessions packed a punch with powerful speakers and interesting topics.  Scott Hawley from the Stowers Institute corrected all of our misconceptions about Meiosis that we learned in high school biology and Jeanne Braha from the AAAS gave us insight into engaging the general public about scientific issues.  Being a social group, the MWACD ended the meeting with a panel discussion on social media. Millennials brushed up on their skills while the old timers were grateful for the instruction since it meant not asking our children or grandchildren for help.

All in all, MWACD 2015 was a great success!  We look forward to our 7th annual meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio.

IMG_3653[1] IMG_3823 IMG_3826 IMG_3827 IMG_3829 IMG_3835 IMG_3846 IMG_3848

ABRF 2016 Satellite Survey – Voting Available

The ABRF Education Committee is in the process of planning the Satellite Educational Workshops for the ABRF 2016 Annual meeting in Ft. Lauderdale.  The Educational Workshops are designed to provide learning and training opportunities to current and future scientists and core managers and administrators, and are typically all-day events that occur on the Saturday prior to the opening reception.

We invite you to participate in a short survey to help us to provide a slate of workshops with the most impact for and broadest interest from our community.

Please take a moment to express your thoughts and preferences.  We will be able to consider responses received before September 1, 2015.  The survey is available here:

Thank you for your consideration!


Natalia Reyero Vinas
Chair, ABRF Education Committee
Sridar Chittur
Co-chair, ABRF Education Committee

Leadership and Management in Core Facilities – Course Offering at Northwestern University

Northwestern University’s business school (Kellogg School of Management) is pleased to announce that its second annual “Leadership and Management in Core Facilities” course will be taught on November 16-19, 2015, in Chicago.

This four day executive education program is designed specifically for directors, managers and business administrators overseeing core facilities. The program was developed to enhance participants’ ability to think strategically and address the unique challenges of operating a small business within a non-profit environment.

Topics to be covered include defining your value proposition, pricing strategies, managerial accounting, marketing, team building, how to use social networks, and innovation.

Each topic is taught by a Kellogg faculty member who is a world-class expert in that field. During the course, participants will form teams and develop “applied learning projects” that will enable them to implement something new into their core facility that they learned about in the course.

Course registration is limited to the first 25 applicants, and registration is online –

If you have questions, please contact Phil Hockberger (<>).

ABRF 2015 Program Highlights and Features

The ABRF 2015 Program Committee is proud to announce a few highlights for the 26th Annual Meeting being hosted in St. Louis, MO beginning on Saturday, March 28th.

Check out the pre-conference workshops! Don’t miss the opportunity to expand your knowledge and learn the latest from the experts. There is something for everybody! The first workshop, “Experimental Design and Sample Collection: Best Practices for Metabolomics and Proteomics”, will focus on identifying sample collection methods that may be more compatible for ‘omics technologies.

The second workshop, “Image Processing and Analysis with open Source FIJI/ImageJ”, will be highly interactive, with exercises following each topic. It will focus on workflows for specific biological assays with some detail on the underlying image processing steps.

And last but not least, the third workshop “Next Generation Sequencing of Microbial Communities”, will focus on many of the current strategies being applied to microbial community analysis in regards to project design, sequencing execution, and analysis utilizing QIIME. Remember to register early to ensure your seat!

Each of these workshops will be featured on Saturday, March 28th.  Be sure to register early as these events fill up quickly!  More information about these satellite workshops and details on registration can be found at


The 2015 ABRF Conference Program also features 6 different tracks for attendees to follow or design their own itinerary.  Featured tracks include: Administrative, Imaging,       Proteomics, Genomics, MultiTrack, Research Group Topics.  Below are a few highlights from some of the featured tracks.  Be sure to visit our Conference website for more details and information on each offering.


  • Cost analysis and rate setting
  • Lean enterprise practices in the operation of cores
  • Building a sustainable portfolio of core facilities
  • Inter-core partnerships
  • Trending core business challenges and how to overcome them.


  • Single-cell genomics
  • Fast and low cost NGS sample preparation
  • Metagenomics
  • Large-Scale RNA-Seq analysis, normalization and Interpretation
  • Gene Editing

The Metagenomics content of the program is strong and starts with our distinguished plenary speaker, Susannah Green Tringe, PhD, from the Joint Genome Institute.  There is also a metagenomics scientific session led by Samantha Joye, University of Georgia and a Metagenomics Research Group presentation.  The meeting content is complimented by Saturday’s Satellite Workshop: Next-Generation Sequencing of Microbial Communities: Strategies for Project Design, Execution and QIIME Analysis.

Imaging track:

  • Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy (CLEM)
  • Sample Clearing Methods
  • Challenging Sample Preparations
  • Watching Biology in Action – Live Cell Imaging
  • Live Cell Imaging Tips and Tools
  • New Horizons for Light Microscopy

The imaging track team is also excited about our plenary speaker, John Condeelis, a leader in the field of in vivo imaging. And we are thrilled that the ABRF award is going to go to John White and Brad Amos, who developed confocal microscopy. This last part is a bit tricky, because the award has not been officially announced, and I wouldn’t want the blog to be the first place.

Proteomics and Mass Spectrometry:

  • Antibody Discovery and Characterization
  • Top-down Sequencing of Intact Proteins
  • Single Cell Mass Spectrometry
  • Quantitative Proteomics
  • Metabolomics

We are also excited about our plenary speaker, Daniel Liebler, an internationally recognized expert in proteomics and cancer research.

Other Tracks of Interest:

  • Bioinformatics Cores as a Business
  • Use of Galaxy in multiple frameworks
  • Setting up References in a Clinical Lab
  • Antibody Validation for ChIP- Seq Applications
  • Education and Instrument Standardization in Flow Cytometry