My TEDMED talk about scientific reproducibility was released today, so I wanted to take the opportunity to provide some additional thoughts about the importance of replication studies.
Every year, billions of dollars are spent funding biomedical research, resulting in more than one million new publications presenting promising new results. This research is the foundation upon which new therapies will be developed to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.
In order to build upon this foundational research, these results must be reproducible. Simply put, this means that when an experiment is repeated, similar results are observed. Over the last five years, multiple groups have raised concerns over the reproducibility of biomedical studies, with some estimates indicating only ~20% of published results may be reproducible (Scott et al. 2008, Gordon et al. 2007, Prinz et al. 2011, Steward et al. 2012, Begley and Ellis 2012). The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest public funder of biomedical research, has stated, “There remains a troubling frequency of published reports that claim a significant result, but fail to be reproducible. As a funding agency, the NIH is deeply concerned about this problem”.
Despite the growing concern over lack of reproducibility, funding for replication studies, the only way to determine reproducibility, is still absent. With no funding systematically allocated to such studies, scientists almost never conduct replication studies. It would be interesting to obtain the exact numbers, but it appears that last year the NIH allocated $0 to funding replication studies, out of a $30B+ budget. In the absence of replication studies, scientists end up wasting precious time and resources trying to build on a vast, unreliable body of knowledge.
It is easy to see why funders might shy away from funding replication studies. Funders want to demonstrate their “impact,” and it is tempting for them to solely focus on funding novel exploratory findings that can more easily be published in high profile journals. This is a mistake. Funders should instead focus on how to truly achieve their stated goals of enhancing health, lengthening life, and reducing the burdens of illness and disability. Although allocating a portion of funding towards replication studies would divert funds from new discoveries, it would enable scientists to efficiently determine which discoveries were robust and reproducible and which were not. This would allow more rapid advancements by allowing scientists to build upon the most promising findings and avoid wasting their time and funding pursuing non-robust results.
Some researchers find the idea of replicating previous studies unnecessary or even offensive. However, it is the responsibility of the scientific community, including funders, to work as quickly and cost effectively as possible to make progress. Introducing replication studies as part of the process provides an effective way to enable this.
If you would like to see funding specifically allocated for replication studies, please register your support. We will share this information with funders in the hope that it will encourage them to establish funding programs specifically for replication studies to improve the speed and efficiency of progress in biomedical research.
by Elizabeth Iorns, Ph.D.
CEO and Co-Founder
About Science Exchange
Science Exchange is the world’s leading marketplace for outsourced research. The Science Exchange network of 3000+ scientific service providers has run the experiments for the major replication studies that have been conducted to date including the largest biomedical replication study undertaken (Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology). Additional details are available here: https://www.scienceexchange.com/applications/reproducibility
Science Exchange, the world’s leading marketplace for scientific research, announced today that it has acquired OnDeckBiotech, an international community and marketplace that connects biopharmaceutical companies with contract service providers. The acquisition brings together two of the major platforms for outsourced scientific services, and strengthens Science Exchange’s market-leading position by significantly increasing its global network of contract research organizations, core facilities, and other scientific service suppliers.
“Over $40B a year is spent on outsourced scientific research by the top 50 pharmaceutical companies alone, and much of this spend is highly fragmented across thousands of individual scientific service suppliers. Platforms for outsourced scientific services, like Science Exchange and OnDeckBiotech, solve the challenges associated with this fragmentation by providing scientists with efficient access to a diverse network of qualified suppliers under a single relationship,” said Dr. Elizabeth Iorns, Co-founder & CEO of Science Exchange. In praising the fit of the two companies, Iorns added, “OnDeckBiotech has developed a number of strategic relationships with industry groups and research foundations which complement the direct channels Science Exchange has developed with biopharmaceutical, government, and academic researchers.” OnDeckBiotech’s relationships, which include MassBio through the MassBio Gateway, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) through BIO BizLink, and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) through ADDF ACCESS, will continue to be supported by Science Exchange as part of its strategy to become the ubiquitous platform for scientific outsourcing across all disease areas and stages of research and development.
As part of the acquisition, Science Exchange will take over OnDeckBiotech’s office in Cambridge, MA, giving Science Exchange a physical presence in two of the world’s largest and fastest growing biotech research clusters. “Science Exchange already works with 8 of the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies, many of which have invested heavily in these two clusters. Now with offices in Palo Alto and Cambridge, in addition to Account Managers operating remotely in San Diego, New York, and other core markets, our team is uniquely positioned to help researchers inside these organizations access the world’s leading scientific service providers and most innovative scientific technologies,” said Iorns.
OnDeckBiotech’s Founder & CEO, Cliff Culver, will join Science Exchange as VP, Strategy and General Manager, Boston as part of the acquisition. “Cliff has been a visionary in the outsourced scientific services space, and we’re incredibly excited for him to join our team and continue our joint mission of enabling better, faster, and more efficient scientific collaboration,” said Dan Knox, Co-founder & COO of Science Exchange. Culver added, “We can’t wait to get started working with Science Exchange. The industry consistently reports that time and effort spent identifying and managing outsourced contracts hurts research productivity. Our companies have each demonstrated the value we can create by addressing these challenges, and our combined platforms and networks are uniquely positioned to continue to lead the market.”
Iorns concluded, “The total transactional volume of experiments conducted through the Science Exchange platform grew over 500% in 2015, and the OnDeckBiotech acquisition will further accelerate our already remarkable growth in 2016.”
About Science Exchange
Since its founding in 2011, Science Exchange has become the world’s leading marketplace for scientific research. Through Science Exchange, researchers can securely access a network of 1,000s of screened and verified contract research organizations (CROs), academic labs, and government facilities that are available to conduct scientific experiments. Science Exchange has been used by researchers from over 2,500 different companies and organizations, including many large pharmaceutical companies and government research facilities like the NIH, the FDA, and NASA. The company’s mission is to enable breakthrough scientific discoveries by providing researchers with easy access to the world’s best service providers. To date, the company has raised over $30 million from Maverick Capital Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, OATV, the YC Continuity Fund, and others.
Dan Knox, Co-Founder and COO, will be speaking at LabLaunch in Monrovia, CA, about how to use Science Exchange to order experiments from the world’s best labs. This event is part of the “Biotalk” seminar series which is a monthly educational networking event to support the current and potential biotech entrepreneurs of Los Angeles. Agenda
6:00pm-Networking and Refreshments
Thursday, April 14, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM (PDT)
LabLaunch-Monrovia – 605 Huntington Drive #103, Monrovia, CA 91016
Science Exchange, the leading marketplace for scientific research, announced today that it has raised $25 million in new funding. The latest funding round was led by Maverick Capital Ventures and also included participation from Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, YC Continuity Fund, Sam Altman, and others.
Since its founding in 2011, Science Exchange has become the world’s leading marketplace for scientific research services. The company provides secure access to a network of 1000s of screened and verified contract research organizations (CROs), academic labs, and government facilities that are available to conduct experiments on the behalf of scientists. The Science Exchange platform has been used by scientists from over 2,500 different companies and organizations. The company has experienced significant growth in the last 12 months, including seeing the total transactional volume of experiments conducted through the Science Exchange platform grow over 500% in 2015.
“Over $40B a year is spent on outsourced scientific research by the top 50 pharmaceutical companies alone. Much of this spend is highly fragmented across thousands of individual scientific service suppliers, and this fragmentation represents a challenge to both individual scientists and sourcing procurement departments,” said Dr. Elizabeth Iorns, Founder & CEO of Science Exchange. “The Science Exchange platform solves this challenge: we provide scientists with efficient access to a diverse network of qualified suppliers under a single relationship, and at the same time we provide sourcing departments with more information and control over their outsourcing spend.”
8 of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies now use Science Exchange, viewing it as a way to efficiently access innovative external resources. Science Exchange also helps tackle one of the most significant challenges facing the highly-trained researchers at these companies: time and resources spent identifying and managing outsourcing contracts. James Lillie, VP In Vitro Biology at Genzyme (a Sanofi company), was recently quoted as saying, “We now look at the Science Exchange as the best way of finding new outsourcing opportunities with collaborators and CROs. We’re shifting more of our efforts for new outsourcing contracts there.”
As part of the Series B, Maverick Capital Ventures Managing Partner David Singer (former Founder/CEO of Affymetrix, GeneSoft Pharmaceuticals, and Corcept Therapeutics) will join the company’s board. “We spent a lot of time evaluating the growing market for outsourced scientific services. We concluded first, that there is an expanding market need for a marketplace to aggregate the thousands of suppliers, and second, that Science Exchange is poised to become the ubiquitous platform for scientific outsourcing,” said Singer.
Andy Weissman, Partner at Union Square Ventures, who has been on the company’s board since 2013, agrees. “With over 500% growth in marketplace transaction volume in 2015 and some companies already spending over $1M each month on the platform, Science Exchange is the clear market leader,” said Weissman.
Science Exchange is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, and has clients, including many large pharmaceutical companies, around the globe. The company has now raised over $30 million and plans to use the new funding to expand its team in all areas including product, engineering, sales, marketing, and customer success. The full list of investors in the latest round is Maverick Capital Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, OATV, YC Continuity Fund, Windham Venture Partners, Collaborative Fund, Fenwick & West, Jose Suarez (CEO of TEDMED), Sam Altman, Steve Case, Kal Vepuri, Jenny Haeg, Alexander Levy, Paul Buchheit, and Silicon Valley Bank.
We are pleased to support the Genome Galaxy Initiative from PacBio. SMRT Sequencing Technology manufacturer PacBio recently unveiled the Genome Galaxy Initiative. The Genome Galaxy Initiative, based on the Experiment platform, supports expedited, open-access genomic projects. It’s a central location for SMRT Sequencing-based projects seeking crowdfunding, and fosters a community of scientists and patrons interested in asking research questions that can only be answered with long-read sequencing. As high-quality genome assemblies from the PacBio RS II and the Sequel System have become even more affordable and accessible, partnering with Experiment is a great fit. Through this program, even more scientists will have access to the most comprehensive view of genomes, transcriptomes, and epigenomes from SMRT Sequencing.
One of the initiatives flagship participants is the Kakapo 125 Project. An effort to sequence the genomes of every individual in the entire kākāpō species. This project was made possible thanks to the high quality reference genome generated by Dr. Jason Howard at Duke’s Jarvis Lab using SMRT Sequencing technology.
Science Exchange is also assisting in the Genome Galaxy Initiative with a number of its projects including the Kakapo 125 being managed on its platform. As well as hosting many of the projects Science Exchange is also the easiest and most comprehensive place to find SMRT Sequencing service providers.
The Genome Galaxy Initiative is another great example of the industry coming together to support open access science and to help out with funding at the grassroots level. Science Exchange is excited to be affiliated with this initiative and looks forward to seeing many new and exciting stars being discovered there.
For many people who use Science Exchange, a visit to the homepage is the first step in accomplishing their research objective. For requesters, service providers, or anyone using our network, the web experience is a crucial part of each project. With that in mind, we are excited to announce that we have refreshed the site, including an entirely new homepage. We have kept the same handy tools you will need to start and manage your research project, but improved the look and feel of some key pages. Search our marketplace for thousands of Science Exchange Verified Providers and request a quote in minutes. If your project is more specialized, you can partner with one of our staff scientists to find a perfect fit for your research needs with our concierge service. Every project is covered by the Science Exchange Guarantee, ensuring that your research can begin quickly, safely, and with complete IP protection. Science Exchange is an ideal partner for researchers who want to focus on science instead of sourcing, and progress instead of payment terms. We work with the world’s best suppliers to make scientific discovery faster, easier, and more reproducible. Providing scientists with a single relationship which manages compliance, contracts, and payments allows them to focus on the research goal at hand while collaborating with our cutting-edge providers. We think breakthrough discoveries should happen at the rate of science, not protracted negotiation. Take a look at our ever-growing network to explore how we can help with your next project.
Science Exchange is pleased to announce it will be collaborating in the Kakapo 125 Project. The objective of this project is to sequence the genomes of all 125 known living kākāpō.
The kākāpō is a species of large, flightless, nocturnal, ground-dwelling parrot of the super-family Strigopoidea endemic to New Zealand. It is critically endangered; as of February 2016, the total known population is only 125 living individuals.
The Kākāpō Recovery Team relies on genetic information to manage kākāpō matings in order to ensure maximum genetic diversity. Having the whole genome of all remaining individuals would allow the team to better understand the relatedness of individuals to optimize breeding.
Sequencing of the first 40 kākāpō genomes is already underway at Science Exchange’s newest New Zealand based service provider New Zealand Genomics Ltd (NZGL).
The Kakapo 125 Project is the latest project organized by The Genetic Rescue Foundation. The Genetic Rescue Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing scientific techniques that enable us to preserve global biodiversity. It was founded by Science Exchange software engineer and citizen/wannabe scientist David Iorns.
The Genetic Rescue Foundation has successfully raised funding for the first 40 genomes but is actively fundraising to complete the remaining 85. A core component of this fundraising will be the Experiment.com crowdfunding campaign that will run from February 1st – April 30th 2016. If you would like to help save one of the world’s most unique and charismatic birds as well as playing a part in sequencing the genomes of every individual in an entire species please contribute to the project.
The Kakapo 125 Project is a collaboration between a number of government, nonprofit, iwi and commercial entities.
All of the collaborators have played an important role in the project to-date. The following individuals have been particularly critical to the projects progression.
Andrew Digby, Science Advisor Kakapo/Takahe DOC – Andrew works for the Department of Conservation (DOC) in New Zealand. He is leading the Kakapo 125 Project and conceived the idea of sequencing the genomes of the entire kākāpō species.
Bruce Robertson, Molecular Ecologist, Otago University – Bruce’s research focuses on conservation genetics and molecular ecology. He has been working on kākāpō genetics since 1996.
Sequencing the genomes of all 125 known living kākāpō is an ambitious and exciting endeavor that will help save one of the world’s most endangered species. It will also create a rich, open access genetic dataset that will be the foundation of some compelling research in years to come. Science Exchange is proud to add the Kakapo 125 Project to its long list of impactful scientific projects facilitated and managed via its platform.
Download information about the project in a distributable, media friendly format.
At the Blue Sky Bio Competition held during the SynBioBeta SF 2015 meeting, three finalists presented their ideas to the conference audience. They each hoped to win the prize resources in order to get the boost they needed to bring their ideas to fruition. Science Exchange sponsored this event, and presented the winners with $100,000 in credits to be used on the Science Exchange platform. In the end, the audience decided to divide the winnings among the three finalists. Ewa Lis, founder and CEO of Koliber Biosciences and one of the winners, presented her ideas about probiotics and depression.
Ewa hopes to tackle the problem of depression. They propose to develop a probiotic strain that will produce a serotonin precursor of tryptophan directly in the gut. A probiotic supplement, especially if available over the counter, is more likely to be accepted by the large population of people that currently avoid medical treatment. It solves the problem of tryptophan degradation in the stomach and doesn’t require long treatment.
The market need for new depression treatments is clear. Depression affects 350 million people worldwide and results in $30 billion of economic loss. Two thirds of people suffering from depression do not seek medical treatment despite the existence of treatments. Moreover many failed treatments are due to patients stopping the medication themselves, often due to side effects.
Ewa and her team will use Science Exchange to develop probiotics that will ameliorate the effects of depression. To develop the strains they will use information from whole genome sequencing, RNA sequencing and analytical chemistry, services readily available via Science Exchange. Combined with their expertise in strain engineering and machine learning, they will be able to leverage the Science Exchange services to accelerate their research.
The Cardiovascular Physiology Core Facility, with over 35 years of research experience, provides researchers with a resource for creating and studying animal models of disease.
While the central focus of the facility is cardiovascular research, the techniques employed are often useful to investigators in other fields. Currently, the facility is conducting studies into diabetes, bone growth, drug toxicology, and gene therapy in liver and skeletal muscle, as well as cardiovascular disease. One of the most popular services provided by the facility is evaluation of the cardiovascular phenotype of transgenic mice.
The facilities include:
Complete animal catheterization laboratory and fluoroscopy suite
• Fully-equipped small and large animal operating theaters
• State-of the art echocardiography for large and small animal models
• ECG and blood pressure monitoring via telemetry
• Exercise training and testing
• Physiologic recording equipment
You can learn more about this lab’s offerings on their storefront.
We won four grants to reanalyze four published journal articles in the field of public health. These grants covere four subjects: Cash transfers and sexually transmitted diseases, the necessary training of healthcare providers, circumcision and HIV and the affect of the US government’s spending in Africa on mortality. The grants come from 3ie, which is funded by the Gates Foundation. The work will be performed by a lab listed on Science Exchange: the University of Nebraska’s Center for Collaboration on Research Design and Analysis.
The grants cover various aspects of healthcare in developing countries. The first grant will analyze a paper published in Lancet in 2012 by Sarah Baird, Richard Garfein, Craig McIntosh and Berk Ozler. This paper, Effect of a Cash Transfer Programme for Schooling on Prevalence of HIV and Herpes Simplex Type 2 in Malawi: A Cluster Randomized Trial, showed that direct cash transfers decreased the prevalence of HIV and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) as well as the sexual behavior of the young women receiving transfers for 18 months. The second grant will reanalyze the 2012 paper published in Lancet, Task shifting of antiretroviral treatment from doctors to primary-care nurses in South Africa (STRETCH): a pragmatic, parallel, cluster-randomised trial. This paper examined the affect of using nurses, instead of scarce doctors to administer anti-retroviral treatment to patients with HIV. They found that STRETCH was not inferior to standard care and supports expanding the pool of ART prescribers beyond doctors to nurses. The third grant seeks to replicate the paper from 2011, Effect of circumcision of HIV-negative men on transmission of human papillomavirus to HIV-negative. This paper addresses an important question about HPV prevention and it evaluates male circumcision as a HPV prevention strategy among rural African HIV-negative women who lack both resources and vaccines that cover the existing high-risk HPV genotypes. The results from Wawer et al. (2011) provide strong support for use of male circumcision for HPV prevention and cervical neoplasia in HIV negative female partners. The fourth grant will examine a study published in JAMA in 2012 titled, HIV Development Assistance and Adult Mortality in Africa. This study investigates the relationship between increased funding to countries receiving aid through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR) and adult mortality more generally. PEPFAR is the initiative developed by President George W Bush which increased funding to select countries from 2004 to 2010. The main finding of the paper is that PEPFAR countries had dramatically lower mortality than non-PEPFAR countries.
Dr. Nicole Perfito, Science Exchange lead for these projects says, “Using Science Exchange to gather the resources to reanalyze these experiments means it can be done faster and cheaper than would normally occur.”
The analysis of these papers will bring extra scientific rigor to the study of health in developing countries. The University of Nebraska’s Center for Collaboration on Research Design and Analysis will do the analysis of these journal articles under the direction of Dr. Nicole Perfito at Science Exchange. Once the results are complete, these replicated studies will be published in peer-reviewed journals.