PCAT Use Policies

Thanks for reading this page carefully. Please ensure that your PI is in agreement with the below policies prior to using the facility. The act of scheduling instrumentation constitutes your agreement with the below Policy Document.

Mission Statement

The PCAT is not a Core but an interdisciplinary center that aims to provide shared resources and technologies to the community.

Access Policy

  • PIs must read, understand, and agree to this policy statement before access to the PCAT will be granted to lab members.
  • All members of the UCSF scientific community are eligible to use PCAT equipment.
  • After-hours and weekend access for independent users is allowed though users must acknowledge safety procedures and be aware of the exit routes, fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, etc.
  • New users and those that require ongoing assistance of PCAT members should schedule their work during PCAT business hours. 
  • Most instruments in the PCAT come from specific sources such as a consortium of owners or a departmental/center donation. Access to these instruments may therefore be rationed accordingly. Some instruments are only available by special arrangement. In addition, various departments and centers have contributed towards the cost of PCAT operations and members of these entities will generally be given privileged access if instruments are over-reserved.

Training Policy

  • All users must be fully trained by a PCAT member prior to using the instrument.
  • Some instruments can be used following training by lab members.  Other instrument require training by PCAT staff.  Using equipment without receiving training will be considered a violation of the PCAT use policy.
  • Training is specific to each instrument and must be conducted prior to first use. Contact the active users listed on the specific calendar page. In most cases, you can obtain training from these folks (think 'users helping users' by shadowing them when they use it next).
  • When possible, read the manual page that is provided on the equipment page. 
  • If needed, contact the equipment manager to ask about training requirements. This person is located on each instrument page under "Equipment Contact". 
  • If a user has prior experience with a certain piece of equipment, training may be truncated, but access can only be granted by creating a PCAT account.
  • For specialized instruments, completion of instrument training is required to access the booking calendar.


  • Users must be trained in biosafety, following institutional policies.
  • The space is approved for BSL2 use-- hazardous materials of any kind must receive prior approval before it can be brought into the PCAT.
  • Each user is responsible for the safe disposal of any materials they bring into the facility.
  • If you use the facility consistently, it should be listed on your biosafety protocol. 

User Responsibility Policy

  • Users must follow all PCAT and institutional rules and safety regulations.
  • Users are responsible for the correct operation and care of the instruments they are using as indicated within users guides, during training sessions, or verbally communicated by PCAT staff.
  • Users are responsible for shut-down (i.e. following any required checklist) of instruments and the clean-up (i.e. disposable plasticware, specimens, peripheral equipment, and other materials must be removed, cleaned, or thrown away) of utilized PCAT spaces.
  • Users are responsible for reporting any missing items or relaying empty supplies to fellow PCAT staff.
  • Users are responsible for reporting breakages, system failures, etc. to PCAT staff in a timely fashion.
  • Users are responsible for repair or service costs arising from negligent or inappropriate use.
  • PIs assume responsibility for their staff, fellows, and students using the center.

Scheduling Policy

  • Access to the instruments is on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  • All reservable instruments must be scheduled. Unscheduled use will be considered a violation of the PCAT use policy.
  • Cancellations can typically be made up to 4 hours before the start of the scheduled time but respectfully, plan appropriately to minimize cancellations.
  • While rare, occasionally some experiments may take extra time due to extenuating circumstances. In these cases, please be compassionate with the user and try to adjust your schedule accordingly.
  • The PCAT may establish usage limits on some instruments to ensure fair access for all users. Or block off set-times for those PCAT members who own the respected instrument.

Computer and Data Storage Policy

  • The PCAT is not responsible for long-term data storage. Any data older than two weeks can and will be removed from the drives without notice. Please take your data with you at the end of your experiment. Time should be factored into your reservation for data transfer.
  • Do not install software on PCAT computers without the expressed consent of the PCAT.
  • Please do not personalize, or otherwise alter, the configuration of PCAT computers as this can have unintended consequences across users.
  • For the analysis stations, do not transfer your data to the C:\ drive (or desktop) as this will slow down the computer. Please use the data drives available or an online storage like Box. Data drives are not storage drives and data can and will be deleted without notice.
  • Custom analysis plugins, scripts, or code can be saved to a personal folder in the D:\ drive assuming the overall memory requirements are small. Please let PCAT members know you are requesting small files be kept on the computer for analysis purposes. Do note that drives fail and data can be lost so back up all important files elsewhere.

Instrument Continuity Policy

  • Instruments may become temporarily unavailable due to maintenance, repair, or service.
  • The PCAT strives to be ahead or abreast of the community’s needs. If a particular instrument falls out of favor, it may be removed and replaced with a different modality.
  • Demo instruments have limited availability.
  • As new instruments come online, users may have the opportunity to “buy-in” on major ownership shares to guarantee access to the instrument.

Revoked access

Users may have their access rights suspended if they:

  • Operate reservable instruments without signing up
  • Operate an instrument which they have not received training.
  • Operate an instrument in an unsafe manner.
  • Are found not cleaning and tidying up the instrument and surrounding area after use.
  • Give access to unregistered users, including sharing instrument login information.
  • Give access to registered lab members; each user has their own account; sharable 'lab' accounts not allowed.
  • Negligently or maliciously tamper or modify equipment without express permission from the PCAT admin.
  • Modify the instrument scheduling of other users without their permission.


  • Variations from the policies above may occur at the discretion of the Director and/or the Steering Committee.