Although many core facilities start with a single ‘manager’, maintenance technician or chief operator, a successful facility will grow with time both in hardware terms and in the number of users that it serves. The manager will have to consider:
- Interviewing and hiring strategies
- Structure of the facility
- Career paths for facility staff
- Performance evaluations
- Personal development plans
Scope of Service
A service facility will somehow fit into the organisation of its host Institution. Often the core will have a simple management arrangement but if careful consideration is given to the management structure, the potential for expansion of services and communities supported is increased.
Although a cytometry service will be provide, this can be accountable on a number of levels:
- Executive Level – the facility will have an independent operation accountable only to the upper management levels of the Institute (this is a rare situation!)
- Departmental Level – the facility will serve a whole department and their range of projects
- Laboratory Level – the facility will be governed by a specific Laboratory and/or project. In reality, many cores start at this level and progress to a stage where they serve more than one Laboratory.
The Core facility will also be beholden to Institutional goals which again may be specific to a particular project or Department (and will probably focus on a single technique or small range of applications), may be cross-departmental (where the range of assays will increase) or may be open access for a local research community (the highest level of flexibility regarding applications and techniques).
Although the primary function of a core facility is to provide a cytometry service, there may be scope for independent research which can be carried out within the Laboratory. This can be at several levels depending on the experience within the facility, the level of staffing and the time available for benchwork.
- Independent research where the facility would pursue a particular scientific question while also supporting users of the facility. This could be as ‘simple’ as working up and introducing a new technique for the users.
- Collaborative research alongside users of the facility where the manager/staff provide technical and/or preparative support to researchers.
- Technical support only where staff of the facility help run samples that have been prepared in the users own Laboratories.
- Knowledge base – the staff of the facility can offer expertise to users in advance of their using the facility.
A core facility will have a user-base of anywhere between a handful of users to several hundred so a core facility is generally considered by vendors to be a good place to target potential users. Experiments need quality antibodies, probes and reagents. Users need reliable, accurate and robust hardware. Core managers are in a good position to be able to help users judge which products best suit their needs and also to be able to deal with the commercial sector. Some of the areas that should be considered are:
- Level of vendor contact – sales representative, applications specialist
- Assessment of new technology.
- Negotiations and expectations