Frequently Asked Questions

Pricing. Costs for running the samples can be viewed on Assays & Fees and can be estimated on Cost Calculator.  Prices are based on actual costs of staff, consumables and service contracts and maintenance. External samples are more expensive to cover the costs of overhead. Also, we have to charge the same rates to all uses with a class: inside (UW or Fred Hutch), outside, international, commercial. There are no discounts for “collaborations” as such.

Authorship. While staff members in the NW-MRC do not insist on co-authorship, in the circumstances where they have made an intellectual contribution to the research, it is appropriate in our view for those staff members to be included as co-authors. Examples of intellectual contributions include: developing a new assay, contributing to the experimental design, performing extensive statistical or pathway analysis, or helping to interpret results. An open discussion of potential authorship is appreciated.

Turn-around time: We strive for a fast turnaround time, however the measurements are time consuming and the data analysis can be even longer. Average turnaround times are typically 4-6 weeks, but may be longer (or shorter!) depending on the queue. If you are concerned about fast turnaround time please ask us.

Minimum sample size. It is much more efficient for us to run samples in batches, and the data are much better as well. MS instruments drift, and so it is difficult to compare samples run 3 or 6 months apart. Therefore, while we will run special sample sets as small as 6, we prefer at least 24. We are happy to discuss particular needs individually.

 Data format. We try to return the data in a format that is easy for you to understand and use. Generally, the data are provided in Excel in raw format, intensity information, metabolite identification and sample number. We add additional spreadsheets that provide information on quality control samples, absolute quantitation where available and other measures. Please contact us if you have questions about data format or how to process your data once we return it.

Additional data analysis. We are happy to perform additional data analysis for you, but bear in mind this work can be time consuming. The types of analysis we often perform include univariate and multivariate statistical analyses, pathway analysis, and assistance interpretation. We can also perform unknown metabolite identification. Please contact us with specific questions.

Samples. We typically need 25-50 uL of biofluids, 5-20 mg of tissue, or 0.5-2 million cells for MS analysis. This varies a lot depending on the exact sample type and analysis (NMR needs more). For cell and tissue samples, please make sure all samples have roughly the same amount of sample. Additional processing charges may apply if we have to significantly modify our sample preparation to adjust to large variations in sample amounts. For small, simple sets (i.e., no serial samples or matched sample pairs, etc.), please randomize your samples, send them to us labeled 1, 2, 3, etc. and include a sample list. In any event, it’s important for us to discuss randomization with you prior to receiving your samples, especially for more complicated sampling schemes..

Tubes. Tissue and cell samples must be in 1.5 mL genuine Eppendorf tubes. Lower quality tubes have caps that tend to leak or break, causing sample loss and contamination. Other types of tubes (eg. Screw cap tubes) are not compatible with our equipment. Please provide a list of weights for tissue and cell type and count for cells. Additional processing charges will apply if we have to cut/weigh/transfer samples. For fluid samples, we prefer samples to be in 1.5-2 mL tubes so they fit in a sample box, although this is not strictly required.

Sample Prep. For some assays, you may opt to do the sample extraction yourself. Assays that require specialized procedures and isotopically labeled internal standards must be prepared here by our specially trained personnel.

Shipping. Please contact us before shipping any samples and after to confirm receipt. Ship samples on dry ice overnight on Monday or Tuesday. Do not ship Wednesday-Friday. Sample tubes must be in a sample box, not loose in the dry ice.