Frequently Asked Questions
How do I access the ECL?
Enthusiasm from the scientific community to access the ECL has been overwhelming since we announced the system - thank you for your interest! We are committed to making the ECL available to everyone via the Internet, but capacity in the lab is limited at the moment. We are aggressively expanding the capacity of the ECL and in the meantime are metering the influx of users to ensure that turnaround time for your experiments is as fast as possible. If you’d like to get access to the ECL, please sign up to reserve your spot on the waitlist right away and we’ll be in touch to set you up with a login as soon as we’re able to bring you online!
What kinds of experiments can I run on the ECL?
The full list of experiments currently available on the ECL can be found on our Experimental Capabilities page. We are dedicated to bringing all of the standard in vitro life science experiments online at the ECL and strive to have full coverage of over 100 different types of experiments available soon. It is our sincere desire to bring back a world where scientists' work revolves around ideas and interests rather than access to equipment or manpower, so it is key to our mission to offer as full a set of experimental capabilities as possible.
How are experiments directed by the user?
ECL’s Command Center software allows users to remotely access every experimental parameter as if they were standing in front of the instrument. The primary technical challenge in bringing the ECL online was developing the Symbolic Lab Language (or SLL), which is a framework that ECL has developed over many years for describing how experiments are conducted in advance of their execution without any ambiguity. The software provides both an easy-to-use graphical user interface and the ability to type SLL commands directly into a notebook document.
How long does it take to get results?
Once an experiment command is given to the software, it enters our system immediately. Capacity on the instruments is limited at the ECL, but we are being careful to limit the number of users on the system such that the turnaround time for each experiment is a matter of days (and ideally within 48 hours).
How are samples stored at the ECL?
Samples can be mailed to and from the ECL (priority shipping is available) and standard sample containers are mailed to users at their request for easy packaging of material. On-site samples can be stored at room temperature, 4 °C, -20 °C, or -80 °C, or in liquid nitrogen vapor. Flammable and acid storage conditions are available at room temperature as well. Pricing depends on the storage condition and the volume of the storage container.
What kind of restrictions does ECL place on the samples it can work with?
The ECL can currently accept samples up to Biosafety Level (BSL) 2. We can accept any chemicals typical handled in a lab provided they are accompanied by MSDS documentation, but can not accept radioactive or controlled substances. Samples must either be shipped to us in ECL approved containers, or drop shipped from an approved list of suppliers. The ECL system is designed to ensure best practices in the handling of both biological and chemical samples to protect both our users' experiments and our team members.
What tools does the ECL provide to visualize and analyze data?
A full suite of visualization, analysis, and simulation tools are provided to users through ECL’s Command Center application. The ECL offers over 700 independent functions for data manipulation and is powered by the Wolfram Language, which offers an additional 3,500+ functions for visualizing and manipulating scientific information.
How is data access controlled?
Our users' data are available to them online and can also be downloaded in a variety of formats, including Microsoft Excel, PDF, PNG, and CSV. Data objects are kept strictly confidential and stored in the cloud using Amazon's RDS and S3 services. Just as in clinical laboratories, the team which tends to robotic setup and teardown before and after each experiment is blinded to the contents of every sample run through the system. Data access controls are provided to enable users to selectively share data with colleagues or to publish it online.
How does the ECL handle IP (intellectual property) rights?
We firmly believe scientists should always own the rights to their own experiments, regardless of the laboratory where they are conducted. The data from any experiments run in the ECL, as well as the rights to any material sent to the ECL or created using the ECL, belong to the user. Our Terms of Service further spell out these rights in legally binding terms and are agreed upon when new accounts are created.