Kudos to Science Exchange’s requesters and providers who are fulfilling their mission to deliver scientific breakthroughs, despite being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It may seem challenging to keep life science research going while maintaining social distancing best practices.
However, we found that, in a preliminary survey of Science Exchange providers, the large majority remain fully or partially operational.
Those survey results will be shared in an upcoming post. Meanwhile, here are some tips we’ve gathered to help life science R&D teams turn a crisis into an opportunity:
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- http://www.scienceexchange.comDiversify your outsourced R&D: maintaining a diverse base of R&D service providers, such as CROs and core laboratories across multiple geographies, can help you avoid potential delays due to plant closures or travel restrictions. Many biotechs and pharmaceutical companies have used the Science Exchange platform to establish a diverse base of R&D service providers. Projects can start immediately with any CRO on Science Exchange, because no additional contracts/MSAs/CDAs/NDAs are required.
- If projects (either internal, or with a CRO) get suspended, consider using the Science Exchange network to easily transfer the project to another CRO, with no contracting delays.
- Explore third-party technologies: You can use this opportunity to test novel technologies being developed continuously by innovative CROs and academic labs to plan your long-term strategy for networked R&D. Using the Science Exchange network of providers mitigates associated risk, because Science Exchange takes full legal and financial responsibility for all work performed through the platform.
GO DIGITAL, AND DISTRIBUTE KNOWLEDGE
- Make sure lab members can access data, manuscripts, papers, and other information assets from a remote location, including making sure that all personnel have access to high speed internet.
- Establish regular routines for video conferencing, to discuss papers, findings from analysis of our work, review each other’s work.
- Consider establishing a collaboration workspace, such as Slack or TeamViewer, to easily organize communication and data.
- Establish backups: cryopreserve cell cultures, for example, and store in two separate places. Record storage locations and enter into a centralized information hub (could be a spreadsheet, database, or cloud content management system).
- Develop a shared protocol repository in the same hub, so that more than one person knows how to perform each task. Even better, use video protocols — recent findings from a controlled reproducibility trial show that when a researcher sees a procedure performed, replications are more likely to reproduce the original result, compared to using a written protocol.
KEEP SOCIAL DISTANCE
- If your organization must limit the number of personnel with access to your facility, consider having a limited number of personnel share maintenance across multiple labs, so that the manager of one lab might also have access to, for example, 4 other labs in the department.
- Use a shared calendar to assign 1-2 approved personnel to come into the lab per day, to tend to critical experiments, perform animal care functions, check liquid nitrogen levels, check compliance with safety protocols and waste disposal regulations.
- Make sure at least three individuals’ contact information are listed on each piece of critical equipment or temperature-controlled rooms, so that there is backup response to alarms even if some personnel are quarantined.
5 Ways Scientists Can Stay Productive While Working Remotely
Reach out to research teams whose recent work impacts yours — consider collaborations, joint virtual meetings, outsourced innovation (see above), or co-authorship.
Attend a virtual training on a research technique new to you.
Attend a webinar relevant to your career goals.
If you don’t already, join the scientific community on Twitter — it is quickly becoming the researcher’s medium of choice for sharing data, gathering feedback, expanding your network, and promoting replication.
Take a position on, and write a review of, an emerging topic relevant to your area of research.