An Informatics "Catalyst" to Jump-Start Innovation
Wikipedia defines catalysis as "the change in rate of a chemical reaction due to the participation of a substance called a catalyst. Unlike other reagents that participate in the chemical reaction, a catalyst is not consumed by the reaction itself. A catalyst may participate in multiple chemical transformations."For over a millennium scientists have turned to catalysts to accelerate and improve chemical transformations. Is there more than meets the eye here though? What if we took the catalyst concept and applied it to the scientific business around us? Today we know the life sciences industry is looking to transform itself by accelerating innovation, speeding time-to-market and improving competitiveness. Instead of tactically "band-aiding" and making slow business transformations, can we look for an innovation catalyst"something that accelerates change without being consumed in the process?Here"s one opinion from someone who is admittedly focused on scientific informatics. A catalyst for accelerating industry transformation lies in an informatics investment that reduces the activation energy required to connect scientists, information and software across the research-to-manufacturing continuum. Improved scientific innovation lifecycle management delivered via a common, scientifically aware informatics platform can play a positive role in achieving this critical business need.Let"s take a closer look at the challenges we face and the "catalytic" transformation we seek.Industry trends including increased cost pressures, globalization, externalized R&D and government regulation are driving life sciences organizations to:Foster scientific innovation and new productsAccelerate products from lab to marketImprove product quality and complianceReduce the cost of R&D operationsImprove operational efficiency within a global networked R&D business modelToday"s globally networked business model is a critical driver of this need for transformation. At present, it is not uncommon for a life sciences organization to have 20 or more partnerships within a single therapeutic area. Outsourcing to external centers of excellence is motivating organizations to reassess their existing internal processes and systems. How well are they meeting the needs of global scientific teams operating across diverse geographic, business and cultural boundaries?The need for improved collaboration is another driver of change. With disparate systems capturing study, project, experiment and sample data across the innovation lifecycle, project teams are often faced with inconsistent, siloed information that is difficult to transfer from one development stage to another. As a result, valuable knowledge and insight are lost. Scientists are unable to coordinate and collaborate effectively.Finally, the evolution of FDA regulations and guidance around Quality by Design (QbD) is also driving a critical reassessment of scientific informatics today. To embrace QbD, organizations need rich insights into the design space affecting product and process quality. Most importantly, scientists need this understanding early in the development cycle and iteratively throughout the design-test-manufacture pipeline.Scientific Informatics: A Positive "Catalyst" for ChangeA common, scientifically aware informatics platform for R&D can serve as a catalyst for transforming innovation throughout the drug development cycle from early experimentation to volume production. This enterprise approach to R&D informatics, one that makes critical scientific information available to multiple stakeholders across today"s networked R&D environment, is better aligned with today"s distributed R&D ecosystem.Replacing paper-based processes with electronic workflow and process documentation is also a critical step in improving innovation productivity. Paper processes are inefficient and prone to errors; they are also not searchable, not traceable, and they hinder collaboration and information sharing. In contrast, a modern informatics system built on a common platform with integrated electronic laboratory notebooks supports a QbD strategy that lowers compliance costs and improves product quality"catalyzing the delivery of better therapeutic products, faster and at lower cost to patients.From an informatics perspective, what do you think is necessary to transform life sciences research today?