Maximising Biopharmaceutical Laboratory Efficiency with ELNs

Helen Winsor



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Ralph Haffner, Head of Biologic Research Informatics at Roche, speaks to Pharma IQ about ELNs and advanced laboratory solutions. To listen to the podcast now go to: How ELNs Can Help Maximise Biopharmaceutical Lab Efficiency

Pharma IQ: 
Hello and welcome to this podcast presented by Pharma IQ. I’m your host today, Helen Winsor. I’m joined by Ralph Haffner, Head of Biologic Research Informatics at Roche. Ralph will be speaking at the ELNS (electronic lab notebook) and Advanced Laboratory Solutions Conference in the Netherlands this September. Ralph, welcome, thank you so much for joining us today.

R Haffner:  Hello Helen. Thank you for providing the opportunity to do this podcast; it’s a pleasure for me.

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

R Haffner:  Well, the initial driver actually started from our customer, the biologic researcher. They discovered that over time they have built up loads of data islands and they would like to connect those in order to have a full overview of the biologics research process. And that was our mandate, our initial mandate.

Pharma IQ:  And how did you approach the actual requirement safety, planning and selection phase?

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

Pharma IQ:  And can you tell me how you approached the roll-out 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 started working with some pilot departments, pilot groups. We tried to develop an initial set of solutions for them, tried to get out as quick as possible to the end user to let them have something in their hands where they could work with and give us feedback to improve those solutions. And after the solutions were ready for the big audience, we just deployed them into the whole organisation.

Pharma IQ:  And 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 just tried to integrate our ELN with an inventory system and a sample tracking system. So, I think this will be the initial integration with the rest of the lab systems we have.

Pharma IQ:  And where do you see the industry moving forward? There’s 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 know whether I could call it an overall IT architecture, but we for sure have a landscape, a systems landscape for our customer - which is the biologics research user. And in this we have a very clear picture of where we would like to go, where we would like to end in a timeframe of three to five years. For example, this includes the integration platform based on our warehouse architecture that I just spoke about, and the end point should be knowledge generation based on a very comprehensive database.

Pharma IQ:  And 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. So, could you tell me, what is your view Ralph?

R Haffner:  From an ELN perspective at the moment I think that the 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’s really basic work which needs to be done in the next month and years, like consolidating the control vocabularies, building up ontologies, trying to connect all the systems we have in the lab to have a real system power behind our decisions. So, I think there’s a lot of basic homework to do until we get to the iPad.

Pharma IQ:  It’s interesting to get your view on it. One final question just to round us off, 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 note book in the area of biologics research. I think, 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 learnt and some insight in our approach on how to start it. And I think it’s one solution for everybody who works in biologics research, or one solution for problems everybody in biologic research will come to sooner or later.

Pharma IQ:  Well, thank you very much for your time today Ralph. It’s been a real pleasure talking to you and we look forward to your presentation.

R Haffner:  Thank you very much Helen, it was a pleasure for me.

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