As part of our mission to accelerate scientific breakthroughs, we’ve been investing resources and capital into strategic innovation scouting and building strong research communities, both digitally and physically.
This week, we hosted our first community-building event, October TechFest, for Science Exchange users in the Boston area. Attendees enjoyed lightning talks from Science Exchange providers and networked over drinks at Kendall Square’s Venture Café.
Here’s a few highlights of the evening that we’d like to remember and share with you, with the hopes of meeting more of you in person at future events!
“Images into Insights” — Visikol, Inc.
Thanks to advances in imaging, tissues and 3D cell models are yielding unprecedented volumes of imaging data. The evening’s first speaker, Dr. Michael Johnson, Visikol’s Founder and CEO, proposed that “Human analysis, slide after slide, day after day, might not be enough.”
Dr. Johnson showed the audience how new quantitative imaging techniques, involving digital pathology and machine learning, could yield “3-4 times more data from tissues than most companies get today.” Case studies he presented ranged from immune cell invasion into solid tumor models, assessing tumor penetration by biologics, and quantitatively mapping vasculature phenotypes in 3D.
We look forward to hearing even more from Visikol in October 25’s webinar presentation.
LI-COR agents drive validation of novel applications
Jason Lockefeer from LI-COR Biosciences addressed the crowd next. “Validation is a meticulous venture,” posited Lockefeer. LI-COR, a ubiquitous name in protein detection, is building on its expertise by offering custom assay services, such as in-cell westerns and biodistribution assays, involving infrared agents.
In addition to assay validation, LI-COR’s IRDye® agents, conjugated to specific antibodies, are in clinical trials for image-guided tumor resection surgery. The IRDye-guided method often outperforms inspection by pathologists.
The impact of digital transformation on biopharma
Science Exchange’s Mike Flynn then invited Jim Lillie, PhD, the CSO and Founder of OvaScience, to provide perspectives on the digital transformation of the biopharmaceutical industry. According to a recent Deloitte survey, only 20% of biopharma companies are maturing digitally.
One path toward digital transformation involves the use of online R&D marketplaces such as Science Exchange, to improve R&D productivity and organizational efficiency.
Lillie, who has experience using Science Exchange at both a large R&D organization and his current smaller company, compared the benefits of applying ecommerce to outsourcing in each case. Science Exchange “delivers two answers to two questions,” said Lillie. “At a large biopharma, Science Exchange turns a 6-month process [of contracting with a provider] into immediate access. At a smaller company, you don’t always have access to expertise within your budget.” Science Exchange enabled that access.
Lillie observed that the common problem facing all organizations has been provider identification. It was in the context of a project requiring a labeled antibody that Science Exchange connected OvaScience to LI-COR’s team, and “they did a great job,” said Lillie.
Lillie’s observations underline that the path to increased R&D productivity is based on increasing connections within the scientific community. At October TechFest, attendees connected not only to create a stronger local network, but also to discuss best practices for using digital solutions for outsourcing and to exchange tips for leveraging innovative technologies.
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