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Request for Information (RFI):
Priorities for Outsourcing of Research Laboratory Procedures

In May 2012 we issued a Request for Information (NOT-GM-12-108 ) to solicit feedback from investigators on their needs and ideas for outsourcing laboratory procedures.

Below we are making the overall results available for interested parties in addition to some observations and conclusions from the responses received.

RFI response summary

Outsourcing Service Frequency
(# of times
mentioned)
Clinical (c)/
Non-Clinical (nc)
Existing
(currently
being offered)
Basic statistical analysis / bioinformatics 7 nc Y
Next generation DNA sequencing 5 nc Y
Whole Genome Sequencing 5 nc Y
Mass Spectrometry 3 nc Y
Antibody production 3 nc Y
Gene synthesis, molecular cloning 2 nc Y
Metabolomics 2 nc Y
Custom transgenic C. elegans 1 nc Y
Recombinant protein synthesis/production 1 nc Y
Zinc finger nucleases for gene-specific knockout 1 nc Y
Serum biomarker screening 1 nc Y
Bone histomorphometry 1 nc Y
Immunohistochemistry of bone samples 1 nc Y
Transgenic Mouse Models 1 nc Y
Electron Microscopy 1 nc Y
Multiplexed immunoassays 1 nc Y
Ribosome profiling 1 nc Y
Consistent quality cells 1 nc Y
Microinjection for C. elegans research 1 nc ?
Microarrays 1 nc Y
Histology of mouse tissues 1 nc Y
Silver staining of neurons in brain sections 1 nc Y
Organic synthesis of intermediates 1 nc Y
High throughput screening 1 nc Y
Small animal imaging 1 nc Y
Real time data sharing 1 nc ?
In situ hybridization 1 nc Y
Carbohydrate microarray (for clinical diagnostics) 1 c ?
Help translate findings in the laboratory to clinical trial 2 c Y


  • The total number of responses was small (49 suggestions from a total of 35 individuals, mostly from academia). Therefore, the feedback we received may not be representative of the whole community.
  • Unexpectedly, almost all of the services mentioned constitute technologies or methodologies that are currently available on the market for outsourcing. In particular, the most frequently mentioned ones (next generation sequencing, bioinformatics/statistics, mass spectroscopy) are offered as services by numerous companies and core facilities.
Our conclusion is that based on the feedback, there does not appear to be a special need for the development of novel outsourcing capabilities that are being sought by investigators.

We realize, however, that many laboratories do not customarily perform or can easily assess the economic cost of using the current options and that doing so could reveal opportunities for outsourcing laboratory procedures.

The observation that most of the mentioned outsourcing procedures are currently offered on the market highlights an information gap regarding what type of services are offered where and also a good system for identifying the most reliable, high quality and affordable services. Even when an investigator may be able to locate a service provider, it is not straight-forward to determine the quality and competitiveness of each provider.

Interestingly, several marketplace-type platforms have recently been launched that facilitate bringing together researchers and providers of desired laboratory expertise, technology and research services. For a short list, see the following news articles:

This reference list is not meant as an endorsement of any specific marketplaces or services.
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This page last reviewed on September 17, 2012