Anyone doing research in areas like transgenic technology, stem cells, growing human organs and in-vitro fertilization needs media in which to grow cells, embryos and tissues. This media usually requires custom formulations to support specific types of targeted tissue growth.

For many in the industry, obtaining custom media is quite a challenge.

The problem centers on how custom media is being provided in the market. Typically, it is only available in large batch sizes from big manufacturers which are expensive and can be out of reach financially for many labs.

Researchers who only need smaller amounts are left with limited options.

Simply put, this is inhibiting those labs from conducting research. For at least one new custom tissue culture media company, that is unacceptable.

Pennsylvania-based H.B. Custom Media (HBCM) is specifically providing custom tissue culture media and reagents in small batch sizes—ideal for those researchers with limited budgets.

“I started my company with a simple idea; provide research scientists with the ability to obtain high quality, custom tissue culture media and reagents for a lower cost with faster turnaround times and personalized service,” says Karen Hoskins, CEO and Founder of HBCM.

“Our clients are either trying to bring something to market or are running experiments and need specific formulations to conduct their research. Because we provide small volumes, they don’t have to spend $10,000 on a custom media; instead, they can spend less than $1,000. This opens up whole new options to them where none existed before. For graduate students and post-docs, or anyone working off a grant, it saves them a lot of money.”

And the idea seems to be catching on.

HBCM is quickly growing its loyal customer base, which includes the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Duke University’s medical research lab, among others. Customers are requesting their own specific formulation or referencing an existing media from another manufacturer and requesting certain changes to the formulation. They are also requesting several variations on a single media. HBCM is responding with custom formulations in 100ml, 250ml, 500ml and 1 liter bottles, with mouse embryo culture media customs filled in 50ml bottles.

“For one of our clients working with liver cells; we make buffers that work with human livers to grow those cells,” said Hoskins. “We also make a whole line of media for use in transgenic studies. For an embryo culture media, we’re making volumes as low as 500 milliliters. For regular media, we’re often producing a single liter. These are volumes not obtainable anywhere else in the market. Large manufacturers just won’t do that. That’s why we’re here, to help address those smaller volume needs.”

Founder Karen Hoskins brings two decades of experience to HBCM. She started her career at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and then spent two years at a small start-up biotech company. She then worked for 22 years at Specialty Media (which later became Merck), manufacturing tissue culture media and reagents for academia and industry and was instrumental in the success of that company. She now oversees HBCM’s rapid growth development from its headquarters in southeastern Pennsylvania.

H.B. Custom Media is a supplier of affordable, small volume custom tissue culture media, reagents, ES cell supplements and animal embryo culture media to the Research Use Only (RUO) market for cell culture and the culturing of embryonic stem (ES) cells, both human and animal. For more information about HBCM’s solutions, please visit or call +1.610.849.5059.