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Living Systems Institute at the University of Exeter

“Clustermarket has become an essential tool for the Living Systems Institute at the University of Exeter. It is an easy to use booking system that has enabled us to reopen quickly after the first lockdown and continue our research safely. Moreover, it helps us to monitor the space and time allocation in our labs. The team behind Clustermarket has always been exceptionally helpful and diligent whenever we needed assistance.”

About the Living Systems Institute

The Living Systems Institute, located at the University of Exeter - a public research university in the South West of England, UK - pioneers transformative science to engineer control of complex biological systems. The institute merges research in biology and medicine with ground breaking physical sciences technologies and powerful mathematical modelling capabilities.

The interdisciplinary discovery vision of LSI entails co-location of scientists with diverse expertise in a dedicated research building equipped with high-specification technologies.

Research

The Living Systems Institute at the University of Exeter - a multi-disciplinary facility - intends to understand living organisms at various levels. From discovering the mysteries of how each cell works to learning how whole populations of one species interact. Their facilities include SEM, TEM, and class 4 laser labs.

Recently, the Living Systems Institute focused on investigating intracellular pH levels for individual E. coli cells before, during, and after exposure to ampicillin. The study shed light that persister bacteria have a lower intracellular pH than the clonal population, even before exposure to ampicillin. Persister bacteria are known to survive environmental stressors such as low nutrients, and it has been linked to antibacterial resistance. The study concludes that there might be an important relationship between the lower pH values from the persister E. coli and its ability to resist antibiotics.

Dr. Stefano Pagliara, who led this particular research, said:

“Our findings indicate that the manipulation of the intracellular pH represents a bacterial strategy for surviving antibiotic treatment. Our new data suggest a strategy for developing antibiotics that interfere with key cellular components of persisters and decrease their acidity.”

Lab challenges

As with many research institutions that were hit by the global pandemic, the Living Systems Institute struggled to limit the number of people within their labs as well as manage the bookings of the instruments within the labs.

While considering the safest way to get staff back to the labs after the first lockdown, the institute started looking for tools they could use without having to spend a lot of time and money on.

The results

After long searches and careful considerations the LSI along with the University of Exeter decided to implement Clustermarket - an easy-to-use lab equipment booking system. Clustermarket - a complete system covering all lab management needs - helped them have an overview of which users were using the instruments at given times as well as ensure lab access is limited to comply with physical distancing measures. By implementing the system, it allowed LSI to restart their research quickly and in a safe way.

The system has now become crucial in monitoring lab and equipment bookings following secure working protocols as well as monitoring the occupancy number in the building.

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