Keynote Address - Perspectives of ABRF, A Bridge from the Past to the Future


Journey to Now - The Origins of ABRF


The development and expansion of the core facility concept are less than four decades old. The factors that favored the use of shared instrumentation facilities and the requirement for expert staff are covered by one scientist who lived during that era and represent his recollections.

During the decade when grants for shared instruments and the release of modern, automated instruments flourished, protocol development for those new instruments came primarily out of laboratories of the type we now call core facilities. Because of the new technologies available, new protocols were required to meet the needs of research communities and much of the development took place in the diverse core facilities.
More than just protocols followed during this era. While guidelines were not available in the beginning, they evolved over time. Cost recovery was, and is still, one of the most problematic issues in the operations of core facilities. Guidelines for the operation of core facilities grew out of the cowboy-like beginnings of the movement. The push for involvement of granting agencies in all aspects of operations continues.

Technology development was a frequent activity in core facilities. When new capabilities were needed, the core facility dug in and figured out how to do them. Often the new developments were accomplished with the cooperation of the scientists whose research would benefit as well as instrument and reagent manufacturers. This cooperation proved beneficial to all sides.

ABRF-supported Research Groups offered members opportunities to evaluate their capabilities with both lab-developed protocols and specific protocols and with comparative data collected in surveys of core facilities.
More new developing technologies have followed using this pattern of collaboration among core facilities and with industry. The exhibition floor at ABRF annual meetings shows off many of the results.

  • Ronald Niece
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    Research Resources & Technologies