In addition, industry may gain insights into additional and unanticipated applications of their technology. “LITT is also a neutral and friendly testing forum for scientists to test a product prior to placing an order,” states Luke Chen, vp of sales and marketing for Phalanx Biotech. “For academic researchers, it facilitates the understanding of advantages and disadvantages of particular technologies, and turns a one-size-fits-all solution into a rational weighing of pros and cons of different technologies,” notes Lucila Ohno-Machado, director of the Decision Systems Group at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and also director of the biomedical informatics training program at Harvard-MIT.
“In addition to being a one-stop technology store that interfaces industry with technologies within the Harvard community, it will also engage in specific projects that adapt/modify new assays/technologies so that they become core technologies—user friendly, cheap, clinically robust technologies, that can be offered as services to the translational community,” states Vikas Sukhatme, director of the novel clinical and translational methodologies program of the Harvard Catalyst and chief academic officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Testing new instruments in a competitive scientific environment with feedback regarding reliability, user friendliness, compatibility with a given laboratory workflow, and input about other competitive technologies gives commercially orientated companies the necessary feedback to allocate their resources wisely and to adjust their course early enough toward market realities.
“In addition, LITT actively attempts to link different technologies from more than one company to find a solution for the researcher. This is beneficial for all parties and is quite unique,” notes Gajus Worthington, president and CEO of Fluidigm.
Arhat Abzhanov, assistant professor at the BioLabs at Harvard University concurs. “LITT has provided my lab with resources to obtain the crucial preliminary data for our grants, test a new idea quickly, or solve a biological problem that is not approachable using conventional technologies.”
According to Drew Senyei, managing director of Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, “LITT has hit an important concept that would be valuable in accelerating the commercialization of disruptive technologies vitally needed in translational research.” The success of LITT will be in demonstrating the organizational capability of bringing together historically disparate constituencies and proving that the combination results in valuable medical breakthroughs not possible by individual researchers.
Pasi Jänne, M.D. Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine HMS in the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology and director of the Translational Research Laboratory at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, sees working with LITT as the ideal opportunity to bring together clinical investigators, applied and basic research scientists, and industry scientists around new enabling technologies to solve pressing problems of conducting research in cancer patients and ultimately to improve our methods of treating the disease. The goal of clinical translational research is to move information from bench to bedside and vice versa, and to ultimately improve the quality of patient care.
For this endeavor to be successful, the information must be of a quality that can be understood and utilized by all the participants, that is, the basic scientists, clinical investigators and ultimately the medical practitioners who care for patients every day.
The greater Boston area is famous for its ability to attract world-class scientists and high-tech companies. Having a central early-access technology playground for creative scientists using new technologies will lead to a self-evolving system of innovation and commercial success and further increase in the speed of technology advancement in Massachusetts.