Fallon Lab wins state-of-the-art Ultracentrifuge

January 15, 2015

FallonAnn Fallon won the 'the oldest ultracentrifuge on the UMN campus' contest, with a Beckman Coulter Model L ultra! The Fallon Lab is now home to a state-of-the-art Beckman Coulter Ultracentrifuge.

In 1987, Ann moved her lab from Rutger's Medical School to the U of M, with a truckload of equipment. With permission form her Dean, Ann rescued a centrifuge from the trash and brought it along to Minnesota. centrifuge came along. The Model L was old and somewhat beat up, but it ran just fine, and was used for many years to make plasmid DNA in cesium chloride gradients, the old-fashioned way. Years passed, new techniques were developed, then came the oldest centrifuge contest at the U of M.

The model L was manufactured between 1949-1965. When we transferred records to Oracle, we did not transfer the serialized records of instruments dating back this far, so we only know that Ann’s ultra is probably from the ‘50s, but it was the only Model L on campus! When at Rutgers Ann saw that the centrifuge was labeled to be taken away and discarded. She rescued it from the dump and moved it to the University of Minnesota in 1987. She still uses it today. See a little history below on the Model L.

In 1946, Edward Pickels cofounded Spinco (Specialized Instruments Corp.) and marketed an ultracentrifuge based on his design. Pickels, however, considered his design to be complicated and developed a more “foolproof” version. But even with the enhanced design, sales of the technology remained low, and Spinco almost went bankrupt. The company survived and was the first to commercially manufacture ultracentrifuges, in 1947. In 1949, Spinco introduced the Model L, the first preparative ultracentrifuge to reach a maximum speed of 40,000 rpm. In 1954, Beckman Instruments (now Beckman Coulter) purchased the company, forming the basis of its Spinco centrifuge division.