How to Deploy an ELN within Biopharma

Ralph Haffner, Head of Biologic Research Informatics at Roche, joins Pharma IQ to discuss how ELNs can help maximise biopharmaceutical efficiency.

Pharma IQ: You’ve now deployed an ELN within the biopharmaceutical area, what would you say were the initial drivers?

R Haffner: The initial driver started from our customer, the biologics researcher. They discovered that, during time, they have built up lots of data and they would like to connect those in order to have a full overview of the biologics research process. That was our our initial mandate.

Pharma IQ: How did you approach the actual requirement safety planning and selection phase?

R Haffner: Initially, we started a pilot with two departments. We went into those departments, had a look how they are connected to other departments, how the data flow is. We built a model out of that and that was our initial approach. Month after month, we added other departments to have the process complete.

Pharma IQ: Can you tell me how you approach the rollout procedure? For instance, did you carry out a number of pilot tests and, if so, what were the main challenges with the deployment phase?

R Haffner: We carried out some pilot departments, pilot groups. We started working with them. We tried to develop an initial set of solutions for them, tried to get out as quickly as possible to the end user, to let them have something in their hands that they could work with and give us feedback to improve those solutions. After the solutions were ready for the big audience, we just deployed them into the whole organisation.

Pharma IQ: Now that you’ve got your ELN in place, how do you see it integrating, or have they integrated it already within the rest of the lab?

R Haffner: Right now, next door my colleagues are sitting together with experts from the warehouse area, and we’ve just tried to integrate our ELN with an inventory system and a sample tracking system. I think this will be the initial integration with the rest of the lab systems we have around.

Pharma IQ: Where do you see the industry moving forward? There is a lot of buzz about creating an overall IT architecture; where would you say Roche’s end goal is at the moment?

R Haffner: I don't whether I could call it an overall IT architecture one, but we for sure have a landscape, a systems landscape for our customer which is the biologics research user. In this we have a very clear picture where we would like to go, where we would like to end in a time frame of three to five years. For example, this includes the integration platform based on our warehouse architecture I just spoke about, and the endpoint should be some in silicon knowledge generation based on a very comprehensive data basis.

Pharma IQ:One thing that’s really topical at the moment is, of course, the launch of the iPad; a lot of people are speculating that this would support an ELN system perhaps. Co could you tell me what is your view, Ralph?

R Haffner: From the ELN perspective, at the moment, I think that iPad is a nice toy but until the iPad comes to really productive use, I think we have a lot of homework to do. There is really basic work which needs to be done in the next months and years, like consolidating the controlled vocabularies, building up anthologies, trying to connect all the systems we have in the lab, to have a system power behind our decisions. I think there is a lot of basic homework to do until we get to the iPads.

Pharma IQ:What do you think can be gained from attending our ELNs conference, and how do you expect it might help people within the industry?

R Haffner: We managed to introduce an electronic lab notebook in the area of biologics research. Of course, that wasn’t the only option you could choose to do something like that, but I think it could give other companies working in a similar area at least some lessons learned and some insight on our approach how to start this. I think it is one solution for problems which everybody in biologics research will come to sooner or later.



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