Large Lab Equipment Donation Will Help Research on Drug Resistant Diseases in Kenya

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( — October 16, 2018) — The fight against drug resistant diseases in Kenya is gaining momentum, largely due to the support of Seedling Labs. Seedling Labs is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded by Nina Dudnik, the current CEO, as a student group at Harvard in 2003. Dudnik was a Fulbright Scholar who saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between her international agricultural research and the unused and soon-to-be disposed lab equipment that could be used for greater purposes. Research groups around the world are fighting to discover treatments for drug-resistant diseases, bring diagnostic kits for malaria, and researching microbial diversity to predict climate change effects to name a few. This research and work requires functional lab equipment, which many labs are in lack of. Seedling Labs was created to put this fully functional equipment to good use and has now sent a total of 59 shipments to 51 institutions in 28 countries.

The fair value of the supplies that have been provided comes in at over $5.3 million dollars and 152 tons of supplies. The flagship program of the Seedling Labs is Instrumental Access, which focuses on providing equipment, support, training and education to labs. Donors provide lab equipment to Seeding Labs, which are then provided directly to labs along with monetary aid. Equipment that is fully functional and has a life expectancy of at least three years is gathered before select labs have the opportunity to access an online portal to choose up to a 20-foot shipping container stocked with equipment.

The lab equipment is crucial in order for labs to continue their research. Each lab requires different items depending on their research requirements, lab space and budget. Among the most important types of lab equipment are ULT freezers, critical to store biological samples, which are crucial in research on drug resistant diseases. These are very sophisticated and it is important to use only high-quality reliable products. There are manufacturers all around the world, some are highly specialized in lab equipment and more specifically in ultra low temperature freezer production, like the Italian firm FDM for example.

So when budget is lacking and there is equipment that can go to better use elsewhere, this helps researchers perform and our global knowledge of their territory advance. Lab equipment can cost the sector billions to purchase and utilise, so any way to cut costs and be as efficient as possible is a step forward for everyone. The generosity of the donors is what keeps the Seedling Labs program running, with donors ranging from pharma giants such as Merck to manufacturing organizations such as Labconco Corporation. Director of Corporate Relations at Seedling Labs, Robert Lillianfield told Laboratory Equipment, “We truly care about quality, so we love it when equipment comes directly from the manufacturer. Plus, the items Labconco makes are the building blocks of the labs we service—hoods, freeze dryers, water purifiers—so they’re hard to get, and necessary.”

Researchers are determined to make a difference in regards to drug resistant diseases and resources play a large part in how much of a difference they will be able to make. As talented or brilliant as a researcher is, equipment is necessary. Outbreaks of drug resistant diseases, no matter where they are, have global significance. The knowledge that we gain from any research, even if it does not directly affect our lives, makes a difference.