The past two years of the coronavirus pandemic have only served to emphasise the critical need for scientific expertise. Yet, the effects of the pandemic have also radically changed the way that we work, forcing us to find new ways of producing this expertise from home, as well as in the lab and office. Synthace has announced a major step forward in tackling both of these problems, through its collaboration with the UCL SPiDER group. The collaboration will address how automation solutions can be used in shared physical and digital spaces for educational and research purposes.
UCL researchers will be leveraging Synthace’s no-code automation R&D platform to automate routine tasks and design workflows while working from any location as well as utilising rarely used equipment without the need for custom code. This will let them build durable experimental designs that can be simulated remotely and then passed on for testing and implementation on their existing automation platforms. By embracing this advanced technology, the researchers will future-proof their protocols in case of any unexpected disruptions to working styles and locations.
Dr Duygu Dikicioglu, associate professor in Digital Bioprocess Engineering at the UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering said: “Using the Synthace platform as part of the SPiDER group’s 12-month feasibility project is a gateway to digitalisation, and a real support to both our research and our teaching. It’s exciting because it will allow our researchers to work remotely, address reproducibility challenges and mitigate the effects of institutional knowledge loss.”
This push towards digitisation is harnessing the problems thrown up by the pandemic and transforming them into an opportunity. Life sciences face a reproducibility crisis, since a lack of standardisation around biological protocols – the instructions needed to design and run experiments – means that they can be misinterpreted when reproduced and therefore introduce opportunities for error that the human eye will often miss. By employing Synthace’s platform, UCL’s researchers will be able to reduce the chances for this human error by using standard biological experimentation in a way that can be reliably automated in the lab itself. It also has the added benefit of allowing for “walk-up” automation services, meaning that groups across UCL can easily access and benefit from the same equipment.
The collaboration ultimately proves how cloud-enabled data and services can revolutionise R&D – something that a recent Deloitte article notes, is currently ‘at an inflection point’. In this way, Synthace and the UCL SPiDER Group can help to ensure that their vital research continues to take place without the need for researchers to always physically be in the lab.
Markus Gershater, chief scientific officer and co-founder at Synthace commented: “Transformation happens where powerful technologies and experiments meet. As more systematic experimental methodologies become a reality (with an assist from automation and machine learning) they'll inevitably accelerate the already rapid rate of bioscience progress. We’re honoured to collaborate with UCL, a true bioprocessing pioneer, as it leads the way in building its digital lab capabilities. They’re setting a shining example of best practice within the UK HE sector, and indeed in the entire scientific community.”
An additional focus of the SPiDER Group is finding ways to promote and adhere to FAIR principles of equitable data sharing – something that Synthace’s digital platform works to address. More information about FAIR is available here.