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    Science Saturday: An inside look at the state-of-the-art supports enabling invention

petri dishes with red gel in a research laboratory

Throughout Mayo Clinic, innovation is the thread that weaves through countless initiatives aimed at improving patient care. While Mayo’s most cutting-edge discoveries are often widely known, the vast majority of innovative endeavors occur behind the scenes.

One of the more low-profile assets in Mayo Clinic Laboratories’ innovation arsenal is the media kitchen, where specialized media and reagents used in some of the laboratories’ most esoteric assays come to life.

“Nationally, there aren’t many media labs,” says Jonathon Berry, media lab supervisor. “A lot of academic centers and hospitals do creative things, but very few have a reference laboratory that has the capacity for a media kitchen.”

The media kitchen, or media laboratory, supports testing in three of the clinical microbiology laboratories’ culture-based labs — bacteriology, virology, and mycology — as well as testing for Mayo Clinic’s internal practice.

Like any kitchen, the media kitchen houses the appliances necessary for storing ingredients, prepping mixtures, and cooking recipes. There is a cooktop stove with a large, canopy vent; a refrigerator for storing ingredients like egg yolk enrichment and tomato juice; a walk-in cooler and stand up freezers to preserve frozen ingredients; and a large pantry for storing nearly 180 different chemicals. There are pots and pans, silverware, spatulas, and a large steam kettle — nicknamed the witch’s cauldron.

The most important resource in the unit, however, isn’t fancy equipment or racks of chemicals, but the employees who work there, Berry says.

“Our team is highly specialized and highly trained. It’s not like just anybody could walk in and make a recipe,” Berry says. “These folks are the chefs and have their own way of doing it that makes it work.”

Read the rest of the article on the Mayo Clinic Laboratories blog Eye on Innovation.


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