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Discovery & Development Standards & Regulation, Facilities, Technology and Equipment

Who’s the Coolest?

Nobody said being cool was easy. And when it comes to laboratory cold storage, a great deal of care and energy is needed. Good practice is essential – and that’s exactly what The Freezer Challenge assesses. From the opening of registrations on January 1 to scoresheet turn-in on July 1, competitors must maximize their cold storage energy efficiency, sample integrity and access, risk prevention, and cost savings.

The rewards are not necessarily bestowed only on those who have the best practice; those who improve the most over the course of the competition have the potential to be sitting on the winner’s table. Labs receive points for taking best practice actions, such as defrosting freezers, cleaning out unneeded samples, and using high density storage.

Whether a small player or an international standard-setter, all labs are welcome to take part – for free, with awards for individual laboratories and organizations.

In 2021, there were four Organizational Winners: the University of Alabama Birmingham, AstraZeneca, The National Institutes of Health, and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. And 11 Individual Laboratory Winners, including the Indonesian Institute of Sciences’ Health Microbiology Laboratory, the University of Dundee’s Immunoassay Biomarker Core Laboratory, and the Hemostasis Reference Laboratory in Hamilton, Canada (full list of winners).

The masterminds behind The Freezer Challenge? The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories and My Green Lab, a nonprofit organization run “for scientists, by scientists” that aims to improve the sustainability of scientific research. The 2021 competition saw participation foremost from North America and northwest of Europe, but also included competitors from several Asian countries – and the organizers are keen to make the Challenge as global as possible.

The lucky 2022 champions will receive a certificate, have their lab name and photo published in as-yet-unconfirmed online publication (in 2021, it was Nature), and will be recognized at the annual I2SL conference in mid-October.

Until then, stay frosty!

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About the Author
Angus Stewart

Associate Editor of The Medicine Maker

Between studying for my English undergrad and Publishing master's degrees I was out in Shanghai, teaching, learning, and getting extremely lost. Now I'm expanding my mind down a rather different rabbit hole: the pharmaceutical industry. Outside of this job I read mountains of fiction and philosophy, and I must say, it's very hard to tell who's sharper: the literati, or the medicine makers.

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