Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Obama administration has set aside $8.2 billion in additional funding for scientific research in the hopes of stimulating the U.S. economy. As part of this funding, the NIH has created Challenge Grants in Health and Human Research for scientific disciplines, and one of the 15 areas identified for these Challenge Grants is translational science. This focus by the NIH is not new. In 2006, the NIH initiated the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Consortium to create a collaborative environment that spans across all facets of medical research.
Translational science, also referred to as translational medicine or research, is at its core a relatively simple concept. By taking a focused point of view, the biomedical community is able to translate what it has learned in the laboratory into the diagnosis and clinical treatment of patients.
While this bench-to-bedside approach holds the promise of tomorrow’s innovative and personalized medical treatments, it presents some real challenges today. To translate information from the clinic to the laboratory and back requires that researchers and clinicians integrate and collaborate on information from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, hospitals, and academia. Furthermore, the growing amounts of data associated with this research has posed enormous challenges for laboratory information management. Research labs now need flexible and robust systems to integrate and manage donors, biospecimens, workflows, sample derivatives, experiments, protocols, instruments, reagents, lab personnel, collaborators, and reporting.
To meet these needs, organizations are utilizing laboratory information management systems (LIMS) to facilitate information exchange without compromising the day-to-day operations of the hospital. This article discusses these developments and describes how a novel and flexible LIMS framework can facilitate collaboration and manage experimental results of clinical outcomes.