Those of you who have been following Scimcon will know that in 2022, we launched our first ever Graduate Consultant Scheme, to bring fresh new talent into the lab informatics consultancy industry, and to help us expand our business by training the next generation of consultants. As we move through 2023, we are proud to announce that we have partnered with Sanctuary Graduates to launch our official Graduate Recruitment Programme, sourcing new talent to join our specialist team of lab informatics consultants, to globally support informatics programmes and projects.
Lab informatics plays an increasingly important role in delivering novel solutions to the challenges faced by modern laboratories. Scientific labs continue to become increasingly technologically driven. In the lab informatics arena existing technologies such as LIMS, ELNs, SDMS and complex instrumentation are now joined by digital transformation programmes not to mention the push to benefit from AI and ML advances.
Scimcon passionately believe that it is the responsibility of organisations like ours to facilitate the development of the next generation of specialist consultants and project resources.
Scimcon aims to contribute to this development goal by working with Sanctuary Graduates to bring new graduates into the lab informatics domain, to train from the get-go in the skills, knowledge, and project experience needed to build roles in the informatics business.
Successful applicants to the new Programme will receive in house training, and will build their experience by shadowing our ‘fully-baked’ consultants within life sciences, FMCG, and material sciences projects globally.
This opportunity allows new graduates to get their foot in the door of the world of lab informatics consultancy. Learning how to succeed in a wide range of projects from single systems implementations, such as LIMS/ELN, to rolling out central data management strategies across organisations, through to full-scale digital transformation projects. This unique opportunity results in successful candidates learning the role by actively being engaged in projects.
The team at Sanctuary Graduates is partnering with the Scimcon team to deliver the perfect candidates for the programme. With close relationships to universities across the UK, the Sanctuary team helps to bridge the gap by working closely with Scimcon, to learn more about the calibre of candidates the Scimcon team are looking for in new graduates – covering everything from academic background, to personality, and geographic location.
The Sanctuary team doesn’t just stop there. They reach potential candidates through a variety of digital and social platforms to provide an initial talent pool as wide as possible. This includes speaking with society leads at universities who pass job ads to members, advertising on platforms like Milkround and Indeed, and using LinkedIn to access a wide range of candidates entering the job market online.
In the same way that data is at the heart of what Scimcon does, data is also at the heart of Sanctuary’s business – candidate data is stored centrally together with very specific attributes. By working closely with Scimcon, Sanctuary can filter applicants by these attributes, with the goal of shortlisting the perfect candidates for interviews.
“There are a few key traits and qualifications we’re looking for when it comes to taking on new graduates within our programme” explains David Sanders, Head of Operations at Scimcon. “Of course, a background in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is the baseline requirement for us, and a good technical understanding in computer sciences or similar being highly desirable. We appreciate that graduates straight out of university will not have extensive industry experience, but academic background together with a willingness to learn and contribute to the success of Scimcon is what we’re looking for in a candidate.”
He continues: “There are other skills that differentiate one candidate from another. Proficiency in communication is key. We look for people that are confident, presentable, and able to demonstrate that they would be comfortable in a customer setting. The successful candidates will be exposed to client projects very early in their training, so it is important that they are inquisitive, are not afraid to ask questions, and can propose creative solutions to help resolve our clients often complex problems.”
Alex Antoniades, Graduate Campaign Manager at Sanctuary Graduates, shares more insight on what Sanctuary is looking for when recruiting candidates for Scimcon: “Working so closely with David has been really helpful, as he’s provided clear communication throughout the process, and we are fully aligned on what candidates need to be able to offer. Another key factor for candidates to consider is location – while many roles have moved to full-time remote, it’s clear from our conversations with Scimcon that on-site presence is necessary for a Graduate position, due to the technical nature of the work and the training required. This is something that we have made clear to candidates throughout our recruitment process – this isn’t a role that can be done from home from the outset, and candidates need to be willing to travel into the companies offices and globally to clients sites. It’s completely understandable for this role, and the great thing about Graduates is that many of these candidates are often fresh out of university, ready for a new start, and aren’t tied down to a particular location. It’s an exciting opportunity for Graduates ready to kick off a new career in an exciting and important sector.”
For more information about Scimcon’s Graduate Recruitment Programme, potential candidates are advised to reach out to the Sanctuary Graduates team via the website, or by contacting Alex Antoniades at email@example.com.
We also recommend following us on LinkedIn to stay up to date with what Scimcon is working on.Scimcon sponsors SmartLab Exchange EU and USA and identifies key themes at Europe event for 2023 lab informatics?
The SmartLab Exchange Europe 2023, whichtook place from 22-23 February in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is one of the global meetings for lab informatics leaders. Scimcon continues its proud sponsorship of this event, as well as this month’s North American event in San Diego on 22-23 March, facilitating one-to-one meetings with a number of informatics customers from all major lab-centric sectors. The continued sponsorship of the event provides access to the community of senior R&D, Quality Assurance and Quality Control decision-makers from industry in both North America and Europe.
Attending from Scimcon was co-founder and lead consultant, Geoff Parker, who took the opportunity to poll attendees and delegates of the attending organisations, to identify the current 2023 trends in the lab informatics industry. This includes R&D executives, Quality Assurance and Control leaders, and Regulatory specialists from organisations such as GSK, P&G, AstraZeneca, BioNTech, and more.
In the informal poll of attendees at SmartLab Exchange, Scimcon has been able to identify key trends and themes that are important to the modern lab in 2023.
Of the total 73 delegates polled, 68 delegates – with budgets ranging between 500k to millions in GBP – volunteered which technologies they are interested in investing in within the coming 12 months.
Some of the key investment priorities included:
When asked about additional investment priorities, 7 delegates stated that the following areas were also of interest this coming year:
Attendees also ranked their interests and what topics they wanted to address at SmartLab. As illustrated, lab automation, and AI/ML in particular, are high priorities for lab leaders in 2023, with other high priority areas including data quality and integrity, instrument connectivity and IoT, and data integration.
This year’s event also saw the Scimcon team hosting the opening panel discussion, ‘What is the future for human scientists as AI and ML deliver the promised step change in laboratory practice?’, where key opinion leaders were invited to participate in the discussion to kick off the event. Panellists at the European conference were Edith Gardenier from Genmab, and Andy Phillips and Robin Brouwer from AstraZeneca.
Geoff summarises “As lab informatics consultants with a global customer base in leading lab centric organisations, it is important to us to check in frequently with influential decision-makers from the lab. SmartLab Exchange offers us a useful ability to poll the attendees and see trends that will impact the modern lab decision-maker, and will help us at Scimcon to hone the way we partner with our customers. The attendees we spoke to were split between R&D and QA/QC – with 43% in R&D, 24% in Quality, and 16% in both. We very much look forward to catching up with delegates at the US event in March, and it will be interesting to see how trends and priorities differ or align between the US and Europe.”
SmartLab Exchange is attended by invite-only decision-makers. The unique invite-only format of the event means that both sponsors, speakers and delegates can access a closed community that meets their individual needs.
Scimcon is proud to continue its sponsorship of the SmartLab Exchange Europe and US events in 2023, and the team is excited to connect with delegates at the US event on 22-23rd March 2023.
To learn more about how Scimcon supports science centric organisations with data solutions and lab digitalisation, or to organise a meeting at the US event, contact us today.
To catch up on the themes discussed in our EU panel discussion, you can read our blog here.
The countdown to SmartLab Exchange US is on, and we will be officially sponsoring the event and taking part in an insightful panel discussion on Wednesday 22nd March 2023. After our success at SmartLab Exchange EU this year, we are delighted to be travelling to San Diego for the US summit from 22nd to the 23rd March 2023. Here, we will explore what the two-day event will involve.
Our co-founder Geoff Parker, will be leading the opening panel discussion on how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is will affect the flesh and blood scientists of the future. A cohort of industry leaders will join our lead consultant, including Robert Pluim from Genmab, Miu-Ling Lau from Merck, and Scott Stanley from the University of Kentucky.
The conference in San Diego, North America takes place annually and provides leading experts in the lab informatics field with the opportunity to build connections and take part in thought-leadership discussions. As the event is invite-only, this means that attendees share the same mindset, enabling attendees to connect with the right people and extract the most value out of interactions.
After a short welcome and opening address from NASA data scientist, Timothy Darrah, the panel on ‘What Is The Future For Human Scientists As AI & ML Deliver the Promised Step Change in Laboratory Practice?’, will commence at 8.40am on Wednesday 22nd March 2023. As a panel chair at the event, Geoff will be leading the discussion with key opinion leaders across the lab informatics space, facilitating the discussion among US delegates on what the future benefits may hold for human scientists as AI and ML come to the fore. From 10am onwards, there will be an opportunity for one-to-one business meetings, as well as peer-to-peer networking for delegates and attendees to form new and lasting connections with other industry experts.
At Scimcon, we find real value in attending conferences and tradeshows on a global scale, to meet with informatics industry experts: particularly as SmartLab Exchange US provides us with a platform to debate themes such as: Lab of the Future, Data, Digitalisation, Quality Management and Standardisation, AI and ML, and more. Throughout the event, you can expect to receive expert advice on laboratory digitalisation through automation, cutting-edge informatics tools and technologies that will become part of our daily lab life.
Scimcon’s unique hands-on experience in the lab makes us a trusted partner for many of our clients, as knowing the science as well as the systems is at the heart of what we do. If you’re someone that benefits from face-to-face interactions and networking, come along to the US summit and organise a meeting to find out more about how we can support your informatics endeavours.
Can’t make it to SmartLab Exchange US? Then look out for our upcoming blog that will detail the next event Scimcon is attending…
To organise a meeting with our team at the event, or to learn more about how Scimcon can support your digital lab transformation, contact us today.Scimcon leads SmartLab Exchange panel session ‘What is the future for human scientists as AI and ML deliver the promised step change in laboratory practice?’?
In February and March 2023, Scimcon is hosting panel discussions at both SmartLab Exchange Europe and SmartLab Exchange US. The events, taking place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and San Diego, North America take place on an annual basis as a forum for scientists in the modern lab to interact, form new connections, and learn more about the evolving technology that is disrupting the lab. Attendees and speakers will debate themes including: Lab of the Future, Data, Digitalisation, Quality Management and Standardisation during the conferences.
As a sponsor and panel chair in 2023, Scimcon’s opening panel discussion ‘What Is The Future For Human Scientists as AI & ML Deliver the Promised Step Change in Laboratory Practice?’ explored the future of human input in the lab, and how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) could impact the structures and processes in place.
Following introductions by Birthe Nielsen of the Pistoia Alliance, the session discussions will be led by Geoff Parker, co-founder of Scimcon. The panel discussion in Amsterdam took place on Wednesday 22nd February 2023, and featured key opinion leaders on the panel including, Edith Gardenier from Genmab, and Andy Phillips and Robin Brouwer from AstraZeneca. The San Diego panel is scheduled for Wednesday 22nd March 2023, and panel participants include Robert Pluim from Genmab, Miu-Ling Lau from Merck, and Scott Stanley from the University of Kentucky.
AI and ML are everywhere we look – in the news, on our phones and other smart devices, and are increasingly making their way into other areas of our daily lives. In transport, we’re seeing steps being made towards self-driving vehicles. But what will happen to those engaged with the transport sector when human input is no longer required?
The same questions can be asked about the lab. We have seen similar disruptions in the past, and many scientists will still remember the days of cutting out chromatograms to weigh them and calculate peak areas – a task which now is fully automated. Through the employment of similar automated technologies – from sample prep, to HTS, and sophisticated instrumentation – we have been able to give more time back to scientists, to allow them to spend longer on the science that matters.
Our panel at SmartLab Exchange Europe and US will dig deeper into AI and ML, and how it will impact the role played by human scientists in years to come.
The panellists will debate the big questions facing scientists on the topics of AI and ML during the sessions, including:
Following the SmartLab Exchange, Scimcon will summarize topics of key interest to the audiences in a future blog.
To join the discussion and hear more how AI/ML will impact laboratories and scientific operations, contact our team for more information.Scimcon Sponsors Oxford Global’s SmartLabs UK?
SmartLabs UK is just days away from taking place in the capital of the country, and we’re proud to be sponsoring the 4th Annual SmartLabs Congress 2022 in London this year. Here, we explore what the two-day event will entail.
On the 8th and 9th September 2022, the Novotel London West will open its doors in welcoming leading experts of the lab informatics field to educate, inform and excite. From technical presentations to think-tank roundtable discussions, we had to join in.
Within a post-pandemic society, our reliance upon digital technology is greater than ever. In the field of life sciences, lab scientists are seeking better ways of consolidating and storing data. While paper-based labs are largely a thing of the past, many are filled with isolated information systems and nonstructured approaches, such as experimental workflows based at least partly in Excel.
Not only do such environments risk human error in transcription and duplication they restrict the organisations’ ability to search and mine data for critical insights.
Removing these disjointed workflows and dataflows are a key part of the wider digitalisation processes which are taking place throughout the lab space. It is no longer enough for laboratories to solely rely on LIMS, ELN, SDMS and instrument data systems.
It is important for the Scimcon team to stay ahead of the zeitgeist from customer-to-customer. Keeping up to date with current trends in lab informatics is at the heart of what we do.
What has this got to do with Oxford Global’s SmartLabs UK? The event will be split into two easy-to-follow streams, featuring all things lab informatics. If you’re unsure of what the latest innovations are, SmartLabs UK will provide the latest updates via over 50 cutting-edge presentations and a series of interactive discussions.
With virtual events becoming the norm in recent years, it is exciting for attendees to be given the opportunity of an in-person, collaborative experience. Day one of Oxford Global’s SmartLabs UK involves the exploration of monitoring and operational tools, and virtual reality tech demonstrations. Day two will delve into data standardisation and governance in lab informatics, and this is just the beginning. Some of the confirmed leading experts attending the event include the Genentech Director, Erik Bierwagen and Goldsmiths University professor, Larisa Soldatova.
If you think you’ve heard all of the latest informatics tools and technologies that are available, one of the benefits of attending SmartLabs UK will be the advice given on how to use these systems to leverage your data. After all, it is vital to understand how to put theory into practice. Taking advantage of the event’s opportunity for interaction, the 4th annual congress will provide an Event App. This will allow attendees to watch selected presentations on-demand, and contains extensive networking features. The benefits of using the app include; a dynamic agenda in which you will receive notifications of any changes to the day, a chance to the view the profiles of all speakers and organisations and a personalisation tool that allows you to organise and plan your schedule. There will also be an Event App prize draw for those participating in specified activities throughout the event.
As programme sponsor of Oxford Global’s SmartLabs UK, we are thrilled to assist in paving the way to laboratory digitalisation through automation, cutting-edge informatics tools and technologies. We believe that the digitisation of your laboratory projects should be done with the best advice and trusted expertise behind you. In turn, this is vital for the healthy reproduction of the life sciences industry.
Throughout the event, you can expect to receive this information in an engaging, illuminating way and through a variety of mediums. We will help to deliver think-tank discussions as well as trusted, face-to-face conversations with our team members who have direct lab experience. For those who prefer independent research and networking, we support the use of the Event App for all your lab informatics queries.
To organise a meeting with our team at the event, or to learn more about how Scimcon can support your digital lab transformation, contact us today. To learn more about lab informatics read more on our blogs via our website.What can we expect from Lab of the Future??
With the March congress on the horizon, we take a look at some of the trends within the industry over the last year, and what to expect from the March event.
It’s not a surprise that, with the impact of the pandemic, the importance of digitisation has been heavily reinforced. In early 2020, we reflected on Scimcon’s experience of providing remote support to clients and some of the changes we witnessed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now almost two years on, we’re seeing a new way of working across labs and organisations.
With digital transformation hot on the global agenda, what’s next for analytical and clinical laboratories? What will the lab of the future look like? Lab of the Future’s March congress aims to answer that question.
With a selection of activities scheduled across the 2-day event, there is no shortage of opportunity for attendees to get involved – whether that’s in-person in the Boston, MA event, or from the comfort of their own workspace via virtual attendance.
The agenda features a range of roundtables and presentations, including plenary sessions, as well as more focussed discussions on specific topics, from the digital lab to the connected innovation lab. The tradeshow will also feature plenty of networking session throughout, allowing individuals to form valuable new connections and learn more about some of the key players and innovation across the industry.
The event also welcomes a wide of speakers presenting and hosting discussions during the 2-day period. With confirmed speakers from GSK, Merck, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Astrazeneca, amongst many others, it’s guaranteed to be an event filled with interesting discussions from some of the organisations that have become household names over the last 24 months.
In addition to discussions, the event is also hosting technology showcases, for leading solution providers to demonstrate some of the latest and most disruptive innovation that they’ve been perfecting behind the scenes. Focussed work tracks also allow attendees to take a more in-depth look at some of the latest technologies and trends in 4 key areas – lab automation, digitalisation, connectivity, and innovation.
Lab of the Future is an insightful event, and one that we look forward to as well as sponsor each year. The in-person aspect of the event will make for a refreshing change following the pandemic restrictions experienced worldwide, but the additional virtual element of the tradeshow means that users around the globe can participate and get involved, regardless of restrictions and concerns surrounding COVID-19 and travel.
However, in addition to the event, the lab of the future is a concept. Our team at Scimcon has over 20 years of experience in laboratory informatics, and with many of our team members having direct lab experience, we can help you get your digitisation and laboratory informatics project off the ground, whilst understanding the questions and concerns faced by scientists every day.
Scimcon is proud to be sponsoring the Lab of the Future March congress, taking place both virtually and in-person at Hilton Back Bay, Boston, MA on 22nd-23rd March 2022. To organise a meeting and to learn more about how Scimcon can take your lab to the future, contact us today.
2020 has been a difficult year for most industries, not least for event and tradeshow providers. Luke Gibson, Founding Director of Open Pharma Research and Lab of the Future, shares his experience of running events in the laboratory industry, and what makes Lab of the Future such a unique event.
My name is Luke Gibson, and I am one of the three founding directors of Open Pharma Research. I have 30 plus years of experience in developing and running events, primarily in the financial and trade and commodity sectors. My colleagues Kirianne Marshall and Zahid Tharia bring a similar level of experience to the company.
Kirianne has had many years of experience in managing the commercial side of large congresses, such as Partnering in Clinical Trials, and research and development congresses. Zahid has 30 years of events experience too, particularly in running life science portfolios, and launching congresses/events. Our paths have crossed many times throughout our years working in events, and we eventually hit a point where all 3 of us had the capacity to try something new – something that was worthwhile, fun, and different to the corporate worlds we had become accustomed to. So that was why we created Lab of the Future – with a view to running events in a different way.
I’m not sure if I would describe it as a gap in the market, more an ambition to do things differently. There was a desire from all of us to build an event with a different approach to the one we would take when working for large organisations, because when you’re working on a large portfolio of global events that cover a variety of topics, you and your team are always looking ahead to the next event, and the focus on the longevity of a single event isn’t always there.
We wanted something that we can nurture and grow, something that we can work on year-round without getting distracted by the next thing on our list. It also allows us to stay within this space and build our community, without having to face pressures such as a year-on-year development strategy or diverse P&L. Our desire was to avoid these constraints, and create an event that we can continue to work on for a long time.
We want to be able to live and breathe Lab of the Future, but one of the interesting things about it is that it’s such a broad concept. On the one hand we deal with informatics, but on the other hand, we deal with equipment, technology, and all the connectivity between them – but even that’s just one part of it. We are not an informatics conference; we are not strictly an instrumentation conference; we also look at the innovation side of things.
I think the best way to describe how we see Lab of the Future is as a proxy for how you do science in the future. Everything pertains to more efficient processes; better results; or ways of creating breakthrough innovation, and these are all part of the picture of science in the future. And that is the lab of the future – where the lab is the proxy for the environment where you do the science that matters.
When we started off, we found we received a lot of queries from industry contacts who wanted to get involved, but certain topics they wanted to discuss didn’t necessarily pertain to the physical laboratory itself. But if it was relevant to science, then it was relevant to us. Things like data clouds and outsourced services may not be directly linked to the lab, but they still relate to how you work. So, within that, the scope for the Lab of the Future gets wider still, looking at areas such as how we can create virtual clinical trials, or use real world-data to feed back into R&D.
People are also keen to learn more from their peers and from other areas of the industry. Lab of the Future allows us to host senior speakers and keynotes who can tell us where we’re heading, and show us how the efforts of one area within life science feed into other areas. It presents us with an almost ever-changing jigsaw image, and it’s this strategic element that I think sets us apart from other events.
We attract a real mix of attendees, and that’s what I love about it. You can run a conference for people in a specific job function, such as a data scientist or an R&D manager, but what people really want to know is what the people around them are doing, to almost give them context of the industry as a whole. So, our conference doesn’t just exist to help you do your own job better, but it helps you to develop a concept of where your department is heading in the future, and what you should think about longer term. We aren’t telling scientists how to do their job today; we’re helping them think about their responsibilities for delivery in the future. Lab of the Future is about the delivery of science of the future.
Our sponsors and solution providers that support the conference are also very much part of our community, as they’re all innovating and making waves in this space as well. They’re in a space that’s always evolving to build the Lab of the Future; and they are part of that solution. So, we don’t merely facilitate a conference of buying and selling between providers and services, we offer a space where everyone is evolving together. It’s a real melting pot, and that’s the fun bit really.
Zahid’s background in life sciences definitely gave us a starting point. Further to that, we’ve found that every time we put something out, that our community engages, and as a consequence we’re introduced to people we never expected to be introduced to. The fact we’re always talking to people enriches our content – the people we meet and conversations we have change our way of thinking, and shape what we’re doing.
Although I’m in charge of our marketing operations, I have to say I’m not always sure where some of our contacts come from! One thing I’ve found quite surprising is the lack of reliance on a database – there’s a lot of power in word-of-mouth, especially in this space where everyone is working on something – why not share that? As we’re seen as adding value to the conversation, it allows people to find us through their connections and our supporters.
Scimcon is proud to sponsor Lab of the Future, and we can’t wait to see you at the Autumn virtual congress on 26 – 27th October 2021. Contact us today to learn more about our participation in the event, and stay tuned on our Opinion page for part 2 of our conversation with Luke.The role of AI and ML in the future of lab informatics?
A few months ago I read an article on bioprocess 4.0, which discusses how combining AI and ML with extensive sensor data collected during biopharmaceutical manufacturing could deliver constant real-time adjustments, promising better process consistency, quality and safety.
This led to a discussion with some of my colleagues about what the future of Lab Informatics could look like when vendors start to integrate AI and ML into products such as lab information management systems (LIMS), electronic lab notebooks (ELN) and others.
AI: In simple terms, AI (artificial intelligence) makes decisions or suggestions based on datasets with the ultimate aim of creating truly instinctive system interfaces, that appear like you are interacting with a person.
ML: ML (machine learning) is one of the methods used to create and analyse the datasets used by AI and other system modules. Crucially machine learning does not rely on a programmer to specify the equations used to analyse data. ML looks for patterns and can ‘learn’ how to process data by examining data sets and expected outcomes.
The following example is extremely simple, but it helps to illustrate the basic principles of ML. The traditional approach to adding two values together is to include the exact way the data should be treated within the system’s configuration.
By using ML, the system is given examples, from which it learns how the data should be processed.
Once the system has seen enough datasets, the ML learning functions learn that A & B should be added together to give the result. The key advantage of ML is its powerful flexibility. If we feed our example system with new datasets, the same configuration could be used to subtract, multiply, divide or calculate sequences all without the need for specific equations.
Possibly without realising it, we already see ML in everyday life. When you open Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV+ the recommended selections you are presented with are derived using ML. The systems learn the types of content each of us enjoy by interpreting our previous behaviour.
Most of us also have experience of personal assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. These systems are excellent examples of AI using natural speech to both understand our instructions and then communicate answers, or results of actions. ML not only powers the understanding of language but also provides many of the answers to our questions.
The fact that we all can recognise such an effective and powerful everyday example shows just how far AI and ML have come since their inception in the 1950s.
Voice recognition software has been available for decades; however, it has not made large inroads into the lab. It has been used in areas where extensive notes are taken, areas such as pathology labs or for ELN experiment write ups. These are the obvious ‘big win’ areas because of the volume of text that is traditionally typed, the narrow scope of AI functionality needed, and the limited need to interface to other systems.
However, companies such as LabTwin and LabVoice are pushing us to consider the widespread use of not just voice recognition, but natural language voice commands across the lab. Logging samples into LIMS, for example, is generally a manual entry, with the exception of barcode scanners and pre-created sample templates, where possible. Commands such as “log sample type plasma, seals intact, volume sufficient, from clinic XYZ” is much simpler than typing and selecting from drop downs. Other functions such as “List CofAs due for approval”, “Show me this morning’s Mass Spec run” would streamline the process of finding the information you need.
Take stability studies where samples are stored in various conditions (such as temperature, humidity, and UV light) for several years and ‘pulled’ for analysis at various set points throughout the study.
The samples are analysed for decomposition across a matrix of conditions, time points and potentially product formulations or packaging types. Statistics are produced for each time point and used to predict shelf life using traditional statistics and graphs.
Stability studies are expensive to run and can take several years to reach final conclusions.
AI and ML could, with access to historical data, begin to be used to limit the size of studies so they can focus on a ‘sweet spot’ of critical study attributes. Ultimately, this could dramatically reduce study length by detecting issues earlier and predicting when failure will occur.
Instrument downtime, particularly unscheduled, is a significant cost to laboratories. Using ML to review each new run, comparing it with previous runs and correlating with system failures, could predict the need for preventative maintenance.
AI/ML interventions such as these could significantly reduce the cost of downtime. This type of functionality could be built into the instruments themselves, systems such as LIMS, ELN, Scientific Data Management Systems (SDMS) or instrument control software. If this was combined with instrument telemetry data such as oven temperature, pump pressure or detector sensitivity we have the potential to eliminate most unplanned maintenance.
Another major concern with instrumentation in labs today is scheduling and utilisation rates. It is not uncommon for instruments to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars/euros, and getting the highest utilisation rates without obstructing critical lab workflows is a key objective for labs. However, going beyond the use of instrument booking systems and rudimentary task planning is difficult. Although it is not hard to imagine AI and ML monitoring systems such as LIMS and ELN, there is far more that can be done to ensure this functionality can go even further. Tasks such as predicting workload; referring to previous instrument run times; calculating sample / test priority; and even checking for scientist’s free diary slots are all tasks that can be optimised to improve the scheduling of day-to-day laboratory work. The resulting optimisation would not only reduce costs and speed up workflows, but would dramatically reduce scientists’ frustration in finding available instruments.
Over the last few years, there has been a massive focus on data integrity within regulated labs. However, many of the control mechanisms that are put in place to improve integrity or mitigate issues are not real-time. For instance, audit trail review is often done monthly at best, and generally quarterly. Not only is it tedious, it is all too easy to miss discrepancies when reviewing line upon line of system changes.
ML could be used to monitor the audit trails of informatics systems and instrument systems in real-time and AI could report any out of the ordinary actions or result trends that do not ‘look’ normal to managers. Where appropriate, the system could interact with the corporate training platform and assign specific data integrity training to applicable teams. The potential increase in integrity of data while reducing the headcount needed to do so could be significant.
Lab directors, IT professional and the Lab Informatics industry are quite rightly focusing on the digital lab and digital lab transformations. Done right, this will form and excellent platform for the next level of informatics development using AI and ML to propel not just digital science forward, but to revolutionise the everyday life of scientists. Personally, I cannot wait!
To find out more about how Scimcon can support your informatics project, contact us today.
Turing award laureate Mike Stonebraker and I co-founded Paradigm4 in 2010 to bring technology from Mike’s MIT lab to the commercial science community to transform the way researchers interrogate and analyse large-scale multidimensional scientific data. The aim was to create a software platform that allowed scientists to focus on their science without getting bogged down in data management and computer science details – subsequently enabling more efficient hypothesis generation and validation, delivering insights to advance drug discovery and precision medicine.
Throughout his 40 years working with database management systems, Mike heard from scientists across disciplines from astrophysics, climatology and computational biology that traditional approaches for storing, analysing and computing on heterogeneous and highly dimensional data using tables, files and data lakes were inefficient and limiting. Valuable scientific data—along with its metadata—must be curated, versioned, interpretable and accessible so that researchers can do collaborative and reproducible research.
We created a technology (REVEAL™) that is purpose-built to handle large-scale heterogeneous scientific data. Storage is organised around arrays and vectors to enable sophisticated data modelling as well as advanced computation and machine-learning. This enables scientists to ask and answer more questions, and get more meaningful answers, more quickly.
Translational research is the process of applying ideas, insights and discoveries generated through basic scientific inquiry to the treatment or prevention of human disease. The philosophy of “bench to bedside” underpins the concept of translational medicine, from basic research to patient care.
There are a number of benefits to streamlining translational research, as it gives scientists the ability to integrate ‘OMICS data, clinical, EMR, biomedical imaging, wearables and environmental data to build a rich, systems-level understanding of human biology, disease and health.
We are actively working with leading biopharma companies globally, as well as research institutes. One of our current projects is working with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals to expedite their research leveraging one of the biggest genetic projects ever undertaken – the UK Biobank. Over 500,000 people have donated their genotypes, phenotypes and medical records. With so much data available on such a large scale, Alnylam’s scientists faced a challenge when it came to extracting meaningful information and making valuable connections that could unlock breakthroughs in scientific research.
The UK Biobank captures genomics, longitudinal medical information and images, so having all that data in one place allows researchers to correlate someone’s traits and presence/absence of a disease, or even susceptibility to diseases like COVID-19, with their genetic make-up. Alnylam has used our technology to help use these correlations to investigate causes of disease and identify potential treatments.
The idea of precision medicine – delivering the right drug treatment to the right patient at the right time and at the right dose – underpins current thinking in healthcare practice, and in pharma R&D. However, until single-cell ‘OMICS came along, researchers were looking at an aggregated picture – the ‘OMICs of a tissue system, rather than that of a single cell type. Now, single-cell analysis has become a major focus of interest and is widely seen as the ‘game changer’ – with the potential to take precision medicine to the next level by adding ‘right cell’ into the mix.
We offer biopharmaceutical developers the ability to break through the data wrangling, distributed computing and machine-learning challenges associated with the analysis of large-scale, single-cell datasets. Users can then build a multidimensional understanding of disease biology, scale to handle more samples from patients with more cells, more features, broader coverage and readily assess key biological hypotheses for target evaluation, disease progression and precision medicine.
By using our platform data are natively organised into arrays that can easily be queried with scientific languages, such as R and Python. The old way of working –– opening many files and transforming into matrices and data frames for use with scientific computing software –– is no longer necessary, because the data are natively “science-ready”. For companies that have tens of thousands of data sets, aggregation of that data in a usable format is tremendously empowering.
Our “Burst Mode” automated elastic computing capability makes it possible for individual scientists to run their own algorithms at any scale without requiring the help of IT or a computer scientist. The software automatically fires up and shuts down hundreds of transient compute workers to execute their task. Any researcher can access the power of hundreds of computers from a laptop.
When Covid-19 hit earlier last year we partnered with a leading pharma company to identify tissues expressing the key SARS-CoV-2 entry associated genes.. We found they were expressed in multiple tissue types, thus explaining the multi-organ involvement in infected patients observed worldwide during the ongoing pandemic.
The first data sets were from the Human Cell Atlas (HCA) and the COVID-19 Cell Atlas. Questions such as “Where is the receptor for SARS-CoV-2” or “What are the tissue distribution and cell types that contain COVID-19 receptors?” can be answered in 30 seconds or less, with responses from 30 or more data sets (since expanded to ~100). More advanced questions can now be investigated, such as the causes for complications and sequelae seen in some patients. Rather than organising all of those data, researchers can focus their attention on unlocking answers.
It has allowed us to support scientists in breaking through the complexities of working with massive single cell, multi-patient datasets. Accelerating drug and biomarker discovery is a key driver for our customers.
The life science community, as well as more commercially oriented research and development groups in pharma and biotech, understand that they need to use leading edge algorithms and cost-effective, scalable computational platforms to give them the ability ask and answer questions in seconds instead of weeks to push forward discovery. Paradigm4 gives the confidence to make earlier and adaptive change decisions that will shorten development, and provide earlier access to complex, real-time data that can detect efficacy and safety signals sooner. Importantly, working in partnership with these users, we will further improve and develop the capabilities in analysing datasets, benefitting researchers as they continue to strive for better results.