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informatics for pharmaceuticals

information and beyond

The informatics landscape is changing to meet the needs of pharmaceutical companies worldwide. Beth Sharp asks what the future holds for data management


ne of the big drivers within the pharmaceutical industry has been the globalisation and externalisation of research and development. Most

companies have adopted this approach and it has been made manifest by a move of resources to different parts of the world, or through the outsourcing of work to contract research organisations. This distributed model brings a number of challenges that centre on organisational complexity as well as the need for effective communication. This essentially means the quality and context of the scientific information that is passing from one party to another. Supply chain logistics are a good

example of this approach, as there is often a single point at which everyone freely accesses information. We are now seeing the establishment of scientific collaboration hubs within pharma that allow for data to be shared in this way. One project we have started with Shire Pharmaceuticals in the UK consists of a central model for reaching


Chris Molloy, VP for corporate development at IDBS

out to all their collaborators that effectively allows them to write their data in one high- context location. The sharing of information can of

course be done in many ways, but scientists require and demand the ability to challenge that data in order to trust it – and it’s very hard for them to challenge a document or PowerPoint presentation. It is, however, easy to trust an experiment that can be accessed, drilled into, and truly evaluated. We hear from scientists that they aren’t interested in yet another technology; they want an application solution to their problem and a laboratory workbook should provide a portal that scientists can use to access their entire environment. Earlier this year we released a new

functionality, ScienceLink, which provides access within the notebook environment to

all the curated scientific data. This enables scientists to run one query and pull together all available information. We feel very strongly that the lab workbook is not a fast-to-PDF document creator for the archiving of data – that may be one small part of its functionality but the value of a modern electronic lab workbook is that it is a fully integrated part of a scientific workflow, capable of using the power of computing to provide scientists with all the information necessary for making the best possible hypothesis, and for the organisation to have real-time insights into their R&D process.

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