Aid for Labs – Scientists helping each other

Lea Geiselhardt, former vice-president of the NGO, while cleaning and packing instruments. PHOTO: Jacqueline Dreyer-Lamm
Lea Geiselhardt, former vice-president of the NGO, while cleaning and packing instruments. PHOTO: Jacqueline Dreyer-Lamm

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Aid for Labs is the new name for an EMBL-based charity that aims to provide scientific equipment to researchers in need across the world

A charity based at EMBL in Heidelberg has been renamed and aims to expand its activities, which focus on sending laboratory equipment to institutions in need around the world. Formerly known as Adéquation Germany, Aid for Labs relies on donations to provide scientific equipment for laboratories in need in Africa, South America and Eastern Europe – and the charity’s organisers want your help!

Working with institutions around the globe, Aid for Labs recycles unwanted but functional equipment and ships it to researchers in need. Through a worldwide network, it aims to help scientists have a better chance of improving research. “We need people to get involved and help us find equipment: if you have equipment sitting in the lab that is not being used anymore, get in touch with us,” says Jacqueline Dreyer-Lamm, head of external scientific courses at EMBL, who runs the charity together with Doros Panayi, Head of EMBL’s Photographic Laboratory.

Past projects have helped researchers in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Greece and Albania among many other places. Now, the first of several projects planned will help set up laboratories at the Institute of Histology and Embryology in Mendoza, Argentina. Researchers at the institution are in need of standard laboratory equipment, including centrifuges, incubators, shakers, gel casting and running devices, power supplies, microscopes, pipets, as well as larger equipment such as laminar flow hoods. “We are also looking for volunteers to check, clean and pack equipment before it is sent to the labs. Our goal is to get a shipping container full of equipment by the end of January,” says Dreyer-Lamm.

Members of the Department of Biochemistry at University of Dschang, Cameroon with donated equipment. PHOTO: Gustave SIMO and Sartrien KANTE

Members of the Department of Biochemistry at University of Dschang, Cameroon with donated equipment. PHOTO: Gustave SIMO and Sartrien KANTE

Aid for Labs was created in 2005, under the name Adéquation Germany, by Emmanuel Reynaud, then a postdoc at EMBL. It has driven more than 30 projects that have delivered 28 tons of equipment to countries in Europe, Africa and South America for use in research laboratories and to train students and lab technicians. Its work has supported many important science projects – and even helped to establish research units. “The equipment received from Aid for Labs has contributed to the setting up of a Molecular Parasitology and Entomology Unit that has boosted our research activities,” explains Gustave Simo, from the Department of Biochemistry at University of Dschang, Cameroon. “We have even been offered additional space for our work by the University as the Unit has expanded. This is a great opportunity for us, and we want to extend our gratitude to the initiative.”