Faqs

What is the PCAT?
The PCAT is a space to house and share instrumentation for other community members. It is used for teaching, research, and collaboration.

Where is the PCAT?
The PCAT is located on HSW10, located in the Diabetes Center.

How do I get access the facility?
Your first step is to have both you and your PI to acknowledge the usage policies.  Then follow the instructions in the New User guide.

Where do the instruments come from?
The instruments in the PCAT are owned by labs who generously offer to share it with others.

Why would my lab choose to share our instruments?
While this model may not be for everyone and every type of instrument, there are a number of advantages for this sharing model. For one, if your instrument is not heavily used in your own lab, you will positively contribute to the community my making it available when you are not using it. Practically this might save a footprint in your lab, or save you from having to train each person that asks you to use it.  Not all instruments should be placed in the PCAT however. For example, if you are using an instrument 95% of the time, it might be better to have in your own lab. Or if the instrument needed to be positioned proximal to some other specialized equipment that required its collocation.  Or if the instrument needed a full-time person to oversee it (like a mass spec). There are certainly other reasons. 

What happens if I don't want to keep my instrument there any longer?
Instruments placed in the PCAT are not contractually bound to remain there. People can move them in and out, whatever makes sense. Possibly the PCAT might ask folks to move an instrument out of the space (if, for example, no one is using it and the space is needed). The idea is to house active useful equipment rather than a graveyard of unused or poorly used technologies.

Are there instruments in the PCAT that don't belong to a specific lab?
Yes. And there are also many instruments that are 'shared'-- meaning that 2-20 investigators each 'pitch-in' a small amount to acquire an instrument that they would singly not otherwise be able to afford.Companies may also place instruments in the facility to demo and evaluate use in hopes that an invested and confident user community will buy it after a year. Sometimes new technologies are beta tested in the PCAT for 6-12 months or longer.

Does it cost use instruments in the PCAT?
In general, instrument use is free.  If your lab uses a particular instrument frequently, we may ask you PI to chip-in on the maintenance contract.

May I use all of the instruments in the PCAT?
In general, yes.  However not all instruments are self-use and some require a small amount of training before you may use it.  There are a few instruments that require extensive training. In this case we recommend that you reach out to the instrument owner to set up a collaboration or develop the appropriate training.

What happens if I break an instrument?
As outlined in the house rules, if you break it, your lab is responsible for ensuring that it is quickly repaired.

How many people use the facility?
There have been >400 users from >100 laboratories.  Several thousands of scheduled events are recorded per year.  The facility has been open for ~ five years and it is growing.

What are some of the biggest challenges?
Given the growth, space remains a challenge. There are over 30 different instruments in the facility, and keeping them all running requires everyone to follow the rules and alert the PCAT admin when an instrument needs servicing.

What is in the future for the PCAT?
As the campus grows, we hope to grow with it. Identifying new space and making additional hires will help service user needs and at the same time, open up new opportunities for collaboration.