Improved Collaboration on Science Exchange

November 17, 2014 | Posted by Becca Swett in New Feature |

Today, we’re excited to introduce a new, centralized order management experience on Science Exchange, focused on improving collaboration and messaging.

We take feedback from our researchers and labs very seriously and have designed the new order management experience with your input in mind. The new design, which went live earlier today, moves messaging front and center and introduces a timeline of all events.

A collaborative workspace

The new workspace allows researchers and lab members to intuitively collaborate on orders. Any member of the lab can see all messages on an order, enabling multiple members of the same lab to coordinate easily and efficiently under this team view. Everyone who has access to this order is shown on the righthand side.

Researcher - RFQ

 

Communication is key

Since open communication between researcher and lab is of utmost importance, the new order page focuses heavily on messaging. Messages and files can be sent during any stage of an order, from the top of any page. Users can start sending messages as soon as a request is posted, and continue sending them even after an order is complete. As always, there is no limit on the size or quantity of uploaded files. All messages and files appear in the main Timeline tab, along with all other events.

Researcher - order - message

 

Keep track of your order

It can be difficult to keep track of research projects, so we’ve made it easy for you. The main timeline shows everything that has happened in reverse chronological order. You can always reference the order status indicator in the upper right hand corner. All available actions, like shipping samples or accepting a quote, are shown below the indicator for easy access.

Status line up

 

Easy access to the latest details

Because research projects are updated regularly, we’ve added the Order Details tab. Here, you can always see the latest version of the order, no matter what state it is in. You can also download quote summaries and billing documents from the Files tab.

We think you will find that the rest of your overall workflow is largely the same, just more beautiful and intuitive. As of this morning, all orders will reflect the changes. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at support@scienceexchange.com or share feedback.

 

About the author

Becca joined as Science Exchange’s first Product Manager, excited to help bring efficiency to scientific research. She previously launched SurveyMonkey Enterprise and WePay Canada. She has a degree from Stanford in Mathematical & Computational Science and enjoys cooking and home improvement in her spare time.

Science Exchange will be reproducing studies for the Movember Foundation-PCF Scientific Reproducibility Initiative

October 28, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth in Reproducibility |

pcf1

We are proud to announce today that we have partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), with funding from the Movember Foundation, to reproduce findings that have implications for prostate cancer patients. We will be collaborating with PCF to identify faster, high-impact biomedical findings that that can improve early detection and new cures.

PCF’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Soule stated “This first-in-field foundation initiative is all about getting the smart stuff to patients quicker. We will see an acceleration of progress due to the mobilization of resources against the robust findings.”

Our Software Engineer Michael Kompanets with his Movember mustache.

Our Software Engineer Michael Kompanets with last year’s Movember mustache.

Science Exchange has a been long-time fan and supporter of PCF and the Movember Foundation (see picture to the right), so we are thrilled to be working with them to incorporate replication studies into their funding strategy. We will be utilizing the best practices that we’ve established for our Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology to enable confirmation of high potential exploratory research results. Our hope is that by identifying robust reproducible results, we can accelerate prostate cancer research.

“The Movember Foundation is committed to accelerating the translation of promising discoveries into new tests and treatments,” said Paul Villanti, Executive Director of Programs, Movember Foundation. “Through quicker validation of the science, and if the science is true, we can help find new cures and prevent prostate cancer in more men at a faster rate. The Movember Foundation is confident that this initiative will play an important role in supporting this goal.” Read the rest of this entry »

Can Registered Reports help diagnose a reproducibility crisis?

October 14, 2014 | Posted by Reproducibility Project Core Team in Reproducibility |

There has been growing concern in the scientific community over the last several years about a lack of reproducible results in the biomedical research community. Recently, two large pharmaceutical companies (Amgen and Bayer) announced that they could only reproduce a small fraction of published preclinical cancer biology studies. These results have shocked the scientific community, and have lead to calls mandating an overhaul of both funding and publishing practices to address the crisis. The NIH, as well as the journals Nature and Science, are all proposing strategies to help improve the research process.

However, a major question remains: Why weren’t these experiments reproducible? Valid arguments exist suggesting scientists are falling prey to poor experimental design, flawed statistical analysis, and/or biased data interpretation, all of which can prevent their results from being replicable. However, there are many innocuous reasons why a particular experiment might fail to replicate the original results, from errors or changes in the protocol, to a lack of expertise in performing a particular technique, to unknown factors that produce variability in results. Unfortunately, it’s hard to draw conclusions from the Amgen and Bayer studies because these companies made none of their data or methods public.

The birth of the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology

We believe that in order to really understand the crisis in reproducibility, including its prevalence, scope and underlying causes, we need a large dataset of actual replication experiments. These replications must be conducted in a rigorously empirical fashion, using detailed protocols as close to the original study as possible, and conducted by expert scientists trained in the original techniques. Most importantly, the details of these replication datasets must be freely available to everyone.

These criteria led us to create the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology (RP:CB), a large-scale initiative to systematically replicate key findings from 50 highly impactful recent papers in the field of cancer biology. The project is a partnership between Science Exchange (and our network of expert service providers) and the Center for Open Science, and is funded through a grant from the Arnold Foundation, as well as through donations from many generous vendors. The goal of the project is to clarify the variety of challenges that exist for reproducibility, and encourage discussion of data-driven solutions from researchers themselves, as well as for policy makers at funding, publishing, and government institutions. To that end, all our findings will be published by the open-access journal eLife. Additionally, all of the methods, data, and results of the replication studies to be available for anyone to review on the Open Science Framework. Read the rest of this entry »

Find relevant scientific articles quicker

October 8, 2014 | Posted by Tess Mayall in Helpful products |

Sparrho imageWhen I was in grad school, I was expected to track and know every new piece of research that related to Indian Monsoons. However, no one told me how to do that. I didn’t have the years of experience and I definitely didn’t have the time to sort through the endless new articles coming out on a regular basis. There is now a website called Sparrho that simplifies the overwhelming process of tracking scientific articles.

Sparrho compiles scientific sources to one place and brings the latest and most relevant scientific news (including papers, grants, and patents) to users. Most importantly, Sparrho learns. As you continue to use Sparrho, it will learn your preferences and needs so that you can spend more time reading relevant articles, rather than digging for them. Read the rest of this entry »

Science Exchange Stories: Ethan Perlstein, Perlstein Lab

September 25, 2014 | Posted by Tess Mayall in Scientist Spotlight, Stories |

Perlstein Lab Cropped

I recently spoke with our user Ethan Perlstein, whose one-of-a-kind independent lab is flipping traditional drug discovery on its head. Check out how he is changing the paradigm of traditional research, pharmacology, and more below.

Q: What is the focus of the Perlstein Lab?

Ethan: The Perlstein Lab is focused on personalized orphan drug discovery. We take a two-pronged approach. We first create a primordial disease model for a given patients’ mutation; that involves taking a change in the DNA that you see in the disease and putting it into the model organisms.

We use yeast, worms, flies, and fish that have ancestral versions of that gene. We can use those models to do drug discovery, and we can validate the hits that we get in patient derived cells of the same genotype. So it’s a closed system where everything is personalized from the outset.

Q: How did it come into existence? What was the progression from your very first crowdfunding experience to starting your own lab?

Ethan: The science behind it has been incubating a long time, since I was in grad school, so it’s been a ten-year process. Screening using a model organism is something I did in grad school, so it’s existed for awhile. As a post-doc, I took some of those scientific concepts and drilled down deeper, so that put me in a good position to have a scientific foundation.

I spent the next 18 months leaving academia and navigating the business side. Last fall, I put together a business plan, had it reviewed by business people, improved my plan, and by the end of 2014 I began fundraising.

The team started to come together in early April. The lab started to come together in terms of equipment and structure in mid-April. And now we have a fully functional lab that has yeast, worms, and flies, and it’s off to the races. Read the rest of this entry »

eLife will publish Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology results

August 28, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth in Reproducibility |

We are excited to announce that eLife has joined our partnership with the Center for Open Science to work on the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology!

eLife is an open access journal co-founded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Wellcome Trust and the Max Plank Institute. We are proud to have the work of the RP:CB published through them.

Each study in the RP:CB will undergo two rounds of review and publication. The first round will present the proposed replication plan to the public in the form of a Registered Report. This Registered Report will ensure that the proposed protocols have been reviewed by scientific and statistical experts prior to experimental work commencing. The completed work and all data will then be published as a Replication study. All data generated will be freely available to the public through eLife’s open access platform. Registered Reports are now under review by the eLife Board of reviewing editors and will be published in the eLife journal as available.

The Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology aims to replicate key findings from 50 high profile papers from the field of cancer biology.

“We need an objective way to evaluate reproducibility,” said Randy Scheckman, who is the Editor-in-Chief of eLife and a Nobel prize winning cell biologist at the University of California- Berkeley. “This project is a valuable opportunity to generate a high-quality dataset to address questions about reproducibility constructively and rigorously.”

For more information, please see eLife (http://elifesciences.org/eLife-the-Center-for-Open-Science-and-Science-Exchange-partner-to-assess-the-reproducibility-of-cancer-biology-research) and the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology (http://validation.scienceexchange.com/#/cancer-biology). Read the rest of this entry »

OncoSynergy Crowdfunds Ebola Treatment

August 22, 2014 | Posted by Tess Mayall in Science Exchange News |

Can We Defeat EBOLA with an Experimental CANCER Drug? from Experiment on Vimeo.

We are proud to share that Science Exchange user, OncoSynergy, is crowdfunding to test their experimental cancer drug, OS 2966, against ebola infection.

OS2966 is a monoclonal antibody that inhibits CD29 , a main cellular adhesion receptor that is key to cancer progression. Interestingly, CD29  is also thought to be hijacked by the ebola virus during infection. With the current ebola outbreak’s death toll exceeding 1,000 victims, it is more important than ever that promising drugs are investigated as soon as possible. As a result, OncoSynergy is using the Science Exchange network to test whether OS2966 can block ebola infection in cultured human cells.

“We have a unique opportunity to potentially effect a major impact on the current global ebola crisis,” said
Dr. W. Shawn Carbonell, MD, PhD, Founder and CEO of OncoSynergy. “However, as a seed stage
biotech startup with 6 employees, we don’t have the bandwidth to take on projects beyond our central
mission focused on cancer. We are teaming up with Science Exchange and Experiment to accomplish
the initial experiments which are an important first step towards possible clinical testing of OS2966. We
now need the public’s help to fund the work so we can start as soon as possible.”

“I am pleased to be working with Dr. Carbonell on this timely project,” said our CEO, Dr. Elizabeth Iorns. “This is a great example of how the Science Exchange platform can help facilitate science and accelerate scientific discoveries.”

If you’re interested in helping this research progress, please donate to OncoSynergy’s campaign here: https://experiment.com/projects/can-we-defeat-ebola-with-an-experimental-cancer-drug

New Feature: Lab-Initiated Quotes (LIQs)

July 29, 2014 | Posted by Brianne Villano in Lab Admin Tools, New Feature |

Just a few weeks ago, we introduced you to our new quotes with line items. There has already been another exciting development for the site and we want to share that with you as well!

Lab-Initiated Quotes, or LIQs (“licks”) as we affectionately call them, are a way for any lab to begin their interaction with a researcher by sending a quote directly to them, whether they are already on Science Exchange or not. Some terrific applications for LIQs are in cases when you’ve been discussing the scope of work with a researcher over email or the phone and want to send them a quick quote so they can accept and get the ball rolling on the project as soon as possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Lab Profile: Ben Woodard, Director, Biotech Research and Education Program

July 16, 2014 | Posted by Tess Mayall in Lab Profiles |
Ben Woodard (right) Director of the Biotech Research and Education Program.

Ben Woodard (right) Director of the Biotech Research and Education Program.

I recently spoke with Ben Woodard, Director of the Bioprocess Scale-Up Facility on Science Exchange. They help take research to the next level, literally. They scale up existing scientific procedures to make them ready for commercial production. Check out more on their interesting and unique niche below!

Q: What is your role with BREP?

Ben: I’m the Director of the Biotechnology Research and Education program (BREP) at the University of Maryland. The program encompasses two core facilities including the Bioprocess Scale-Up Facility that focuses on yeast and bacteria processes and the Biopharmaceuticals Advancement Facility that focuses on adherent or suspension-adapted cell lines such as HEK293, CHO, Sf9, NSO, and MSCs.

Q: How did the Program come into existence?

Ben: The program began with just the Scale-Up Facility. In 1985 the University and my department, then The Engineering Research Center, felt that there was a need for a laboratory that would enable collaborative research between academics and industry.

The faculty had great ideas, but they didn’t know how to commercialize them, they didn’t know how to take a product to market. The industry had challenges with their processes that needed the expertise of the academics. So the Facility was created to link these two groups together. When it began in ‘85 it was one of the only contract research facilities on the East Coast, it was pretty novel at the time.

We were created to spark economic development for the State while providing small start-ups, faculty researchers, and student researchers with a knowledge base that would help them create novel and new technologies. Ultimately trying foster growth in the Maryland biotech sector.

Q: What are the most popular experiments?

Ben: Cell culture and fermentation projects, protein expression and purification. We specialize in taking a cell line that’s been modified and scaling up its production for pre-clinical research. Additionally, we have fantastic training and workforce development program that has trained over 200 technicians and researchers for the biotech industry.

Q: What are some of the major projects you worked on?

Ben: A major success was a product called Synagis, a top selling biopharmaceutical. It’s used to treat respiratory syncytial virus, a virus that prevents proper lung development in premature babies.

A second major project was our work with Martek and their product LifesDHA.  It’s a fatty acid that’s been linked to brain and eye development in children.  DHA is naturally found in breast milk, but Martek, with the help of our facility, was able to optimize its production in algae. Just about every child in North America under the age of 14 has consumed their product.

Our service isn’t to identify proteins or antibodies such as these, it’s to provide research, optimization, scale-up, and the like, to support the efforts of the biotech community.  We provide services that are crucial to the long term growth of a biotech product.

A parallel would be if you make a Duncan Heinz cake for your office. You get an egg, you mix it up with the mix and a little oil, bake it and you can feed 5 or 6 people. Now make that cake and feed the entire Northern hemisphere. Do you add 1 million times more eggs? Bake at a different temperature? You can’t just multiply the number of eggs by the anticipated number of servings. You have to change variables such as temperature, the size of the pan, and the ratio of oil to mix, in order for the cake to bake correctly.

Now for us, a researcher or clinician may have an idea that they’ve researched in small scale and found they can produce a small amount, a few milligrams  of a protein or antibody, perhaps enough to treat a mouse.  Now how do you scale-up that product to treat 4 or 5 million people? That’s where we come in.

Our mission is three-fold: do contract service work, help workforce development, and support education and research opportunities for undergraduate students.

Q: How did you end up working there?

Ben: I started as an undergraduate student in 1994 in the fermentation facility. I was working on workforce development project for MedImmune, training over 100 of their employees, and I really enjoyed the work in and the interaction with other.  I’ve been involved with the BREP since.

Q: How has your experience been using Science Exchange?

Ben: It’s been great. It’s been a unique opportunity to expand our reach outside Maryland. Being a state university we don’t spend a lot of money on marketing, but with Science Exchange we can utilize equipment that’s normally stagnant. Science Exchange allows researchers from other institutions to access equipment that would’ve been idle. Working with Science Exchange has really been a great source of opportunities for us to make our equipment operate at a higher volume.

Check out more on the Bioprocess Scale-Up Facility at their Science Exchange storefront.

About the author

Tess Mayall builds Science Exchange’s online and offline community of scientists and providers. She is a geologist by training, but considers herself a friend of scientists near and far.

 

 

New Feature: Line Items for Quotes

July 8, 2014 | Posted by Brianne Villano in Lab Admin Tools, New Feature |

This has been an incredible year for Science Exchange. Our team has grown and our site is continually improving based on feedback we receive every day from researchers and lab admins alike.

Our newest feature was one of the most commonly requested from the lab admins on our site. It began as a discussion with the Lab Advisory Board – the LAB for short.

Previously, lab admins were able to submit text in a large description box, upload any pertinent files (like their institution quotes that included line items), and a price for the project. So in order to make the quoting process more flexible and intuitive, we’ve built line items into our existing quote system.

Labs are now able to generate their own line items within Science Exchange!

New line items for quotes

Read the rest of this entry »

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