I'm an early stage investigator (ESI) working on an NIH-R01 application where I am proposing a good amount of experiments that necessitate this piece of equipment that costs $220,000. This piece of equipment exists on my campus, but it's located a couple of miles away from my lab, which requires me or someone from my lab to carry cells by car or on public transit. Since the equipment is used to measure cellular metabolic function, I've always been wary about carrying my cells all the way there. Anyhow, I'd like to buy this piece of equipment in my first year of the R01. The good thing is that adding the $220k to my year 1 budget doesn't exceed the $500k limit/year. Now I'm wondering if it's appropriate to request such an expensive piece of equipment as an early stage investigator. I am thinking that the reviewers may comment on the fact that I already collected a significant amount of prelim data in collaboration with another lab... so why not continue to do so? Why the need to purchase the equipment? Do you think such request could tank a grant application? Thanks for your input!

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    Do you have the skills, knowledge and associated equipment to look after this piece of kit? More importantly will you have the time available? Have you checked out the servicing and/or calibration requirements? – Solar Mike Aug 30 '19 at 5:20
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    All good points, thanks for your comment. I have the skills and knowledge, yes. There's no associated equipment necessary, this is a single unit system (It's a Seahorse analyzer, in case you're familiar with it, it's used to measure oxygen consumption rates in cells). I contacted the company regarding the servicing and calibration, thanks for the advice. – Mbio Aug 30 '19 at 15:13
  1. Get the tool that helps you do the job properly and efficiently. Your previous experience and history of using another instrument makes your case stronger, not weaker. Shows you will use the machine. It's not some new angle, for you, that might get abandoned.

  2. I really doubt NIH gets into the minutia of where competing machines are located. If you get any static from the school or NIH, just put on a confident face and say "I need it...it's a workhorse machine for my lab." Don't be bashful. Fortune favors the bold.

  3. The one thing is I would think about if you will be able to maintain it properly. E.g. if you're a synthesist, probably not best to buy an SEM. You almost need a technician or a group of SEM only types to keep it aligned and the like. But if you think you can handle running it and keeping it going, go for it. Maybe mentally budget some ongoing costs for techassists from the vendor. So if you are going to struggle with it, or it will be a waste since you have a hard time keeping it operating, then pass and use the remote facility instead.

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    Thanks for your answer and for the encouragements, guest. regarding your point #3, there's no need for a technician with specific skills to operate the machines. The company provides a training upon purchase and from my experience with the system located a few miles away from my lab, anyone can use it (there's been a lot of turnover in that lab). I had not thought about budgeting other costs such as servicing, warranty, or other costs until I saw your answer as well as the comment from Solar Mike. I contacted the company to ask more questions. Thanks again for your help! – Mbio Aug 30 '19 at 15:14

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