All MS instruments and associated equipment are operated, supported and supervised by one or more IMSC technicians. The technicians all have broad MS experience and often have in-depth knowledge on specific subjects or methods. The general policy of the IMSC is to provide high-level service to every scientist and research group from the RuG and UMCG to the best of our abilities. Exploitation of the IMSC, notably repair and maintenance of MS equipment, and costs of MS-specific consumables is covered by user fees (standard fee is 35 euro per hour, per Jan 1st 2019). For external customers (non-RuG or UMCG) overhead and personnel costs are added and significantly higher user fee charged (details on request). This has proved to be a sustainable financial model for more than 15 years, and leaves room for small investments and instrument upgrades.
The type of service, contribution and collaboration depend on the type of research project and the input from the research group:
- Scientists that wish to have samples analyzed on an occasional basis, with questions that do not require extensive methods development, will usually interact directly with the technical staff of the IMSC and have their analyses done for the hourly user fee.
- Scientists that have research questions which require extensive methods development discuss first with the head of the IMSC and, if necessary, the scientific head, to define the approach and workload. Users will have to contribute financially to the methods development work at least on a partial basis, by paying the regular hourly user fee. In the case of long-term developments (e.g. 3 months or more), which will also enhance the overall competence of the IMSC, an agreement can be made for a fixed fee according to agreed-upon criteria but will be lower than just adding the hourly user fee. It is strongly recommended that users foreseeing such a use of the IMSC discuss their project needs prior to applying for funding and include the cost in their regular project budget.
- Scientists that have research questions, where the use of cutting-edge biological mass spectrometry and related techniques is required on a structural basis (e.g. biomarker discovery projects, systems biology projects) collaborate with the IMSC on a scientific level. This implies, in general, that the IMSC is already involved at the stage of the grant application and that cost for the use of instrumentation, personnel and consumables are part of the project budget. Such projects may also request dedicated instrumentation in their grants, which will be housed in the IMSC and reserved with priority for these users.
- Scientists and commercial parties from outside the University of Groningen or the UMCG will be classified in the same way as internal academic users, but the user fees include salary cost and instrument depreciation or agreed-upon contract criteria as mentioned above.