What is a Dry Lab?

dry lab graphic

There are exciting developments happening within the technology community. New lab space coming to the region to foster more research and innovation in biotech. With the proposed uptick in jobs (250!) over the course of five years, you might hear the terms “wet labs” and “dry labs” come up more often in conversation. But what’s the difference between the two? We’ve put together a handy primer so you can learn what you need to know about the specifics of dry lab space.

What is a Dry Lab?

A dry lab is a laboratory space designed to accommodate applied or computational mathematics. These spaces are perfect for solving complicated problems via computer-generated models. Scientists might use these models to explore hypotheses regarding molecular changes of state, boundaries of black holes, or cancer growth.

One of the advantages of working in a dry lab is the access it provides to powerful computing equipment. To protect sensitive instruments, a dry lab runs on a clean power system and may be outfitted with systems that control humidity, temperature, and dust. Another advantage is a dry lab’s relative affordability — often access to these spaces comes at low cost.

As the names imply, dry labs contrast with wet labs, which are suitable for dealing with liquid substances and experiments involving chemicals, biological matter, and drugs.

What Types of Research Can You Do in a Dry Lab?

Computational or applied mathematics can be done in a dry lab. Scientists who work in dry labs deal with the theoretical. They might work in dry labs to perform important analyses before moving on to physical testing, or because the scope of the project makes physical testing difficult or impossible, as in the case of studying black holes. For example, a pharmaceutical startup may run models of their hypothesis before working with the chemicals themselves, saving time and money.

Learn More

The region’s technology sector is flourishing! Within the university or medical community there are exciting startups, innovative projects, and fresh research happening almost every day. New dry lab spaces will open in Blacksburg at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center later this year (with short- and long-term leases available.) Visit their website to learn more.

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