I think this question is highly dependent upon two factors; your institute and your PI. If there is a culture of innovation and of striving to always be at the cutting edge in your institute, then you are likely to be surrounded by the latest technology. A collegial environment means the knowledge and skillsets needed to use these new technologies spreads. Having moved from an institute which did good work but wasn’t at the cutting edge to a powerful institute not just using but creating technology the difference in culture is immense.


When a PI has been successfully working with a certain set of techniques for many years I think it becomes anathema to them to even consider changing one of these.


However new technologies come with a certain amount of risk and while certain levels of risk are acceptable in science, risks regarding tools are not ones some PIs are willing to take. When a PI has been successfully working with a certain set of techniques for many years I think it becomes anathema to them to even consider changing one of these. Most of the time these are classic techniques that do not particularly change with time, however new tools and techniques are constantly being developed that would add to any labs repertoire. The fear of the unknown; the precise mechanism of a technology, the nitty gritty details that are needed to “ACTUALLY” get a technique to work and the lack of analytical skills required for new data heavy techniques often makes people wary of embracing them wholeheartedly. So when faced with these issues it is perhaps easy to see why PIs do not prioritise the latest (and probably super expensive) new technology when spending their precious grant money.

It is tremendously useful in this scenario to have core facilities and forward thinking core facility managers. An ambitious core facility manager if given the right resources can keep an entire institute at the forefront of technology. They can also provide appropriate teaching and optimise the use of the technology by connecting researchers using similar techniques; helping them to share the burden of adapting a new technique to their needs.

Has bench science embraced technological advances to its best potential?

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