Protecting Your Research Assets

Safe and effective storage of research materials is a critical component of Boston University’s ongoing research activities. Ultra-cold freezers (or “Minus 80s”) in particular store many of the critical research materials on campus and, as our research community grows, the risk of potential loss increases in likelihood and severity. A significant freezer failure incident may have serious and far-reaching impact on our students and faculty members, as well as industry partners, patients, and the community at large.

Freezer Failure Risks

  • Delayed/lost research outcomes
  • Damaged institutional reputation
  • Loss of grant funding
  • Loss of irreplaceable research
  • PIPrincipal Investigator View Boston University's policy on.../student career setbacks
  • Other financial costs

Freezer Loss Data

The financial impact of freezer failures can be significant, potentially costing millions of dollars. To date, Boston University has been fortunate not to have experienced a large financial loss. However, small-scale losses have been relatively frequent in recent years. The figure below depicts BU’s freezer-related losses from 2014 through 2020. BU did not experience any reported freezer losses between 2014 and 2018.

The number of ultra-cold freezers on campus continues to grow, and a significant portion of them have aged past their ‘useful life.’* As the University’s research progresses, requiring additional freezer capacity, the risk of potential freezer failure increases in likelihood and severity.

*’Useful life’ is the accounting definition of the estimated lifespan of a depreciable fixed asset, during which it can be expected to contribute to company operations.

Freezer Failure Case Study

Financial loss is one of the consequences of a freezer failure event, but there are many others. The impact of a freezer failure event at BU in 2019 had a significant impact on the affected laboratory’s productivity and publication rate. The researcher lost approximately 20 years of research materials, the vast majority of which could not be easily or quickly replicated. Due to the time devoted to recovery efforts, a group that had been publishing six to seven research papers per year is now only able to publish one.


BU Sourcing Freezer Equipment

BU Sourcing offers high-quality lab equipment-freezers, fixtures, furniture, and more-at discounted prices and streamlined ordering through Guided Buying.

Freezer Emergency Response

The emergency phone service center is a vital link between you and the skilled University tradespeople and local emergency responders who can help resolve your problem.

FreezerPro Software

FreezerPro allows users to track their frozen samples through an intuitive, fast, reliable and secure web-based application. Utilize this IS&T resource as part of your freezer maintenance plan.

Lab Safety Program Services

Visit the Environmental Health & Safety website to learn more about lab safety at BU.