What  are the S&T trends and how will they influence lab design?

What are the trends and what is the impact on the lab; who will use them; what will be the impact on lab design (size,shape,configuration of the lab); will the trends impact location of the lab; when will the trends impacts take effect; how will the labs be used


What is impact of mobile media on lab design:  interaction of digital content, wireless, hand held mobile device; iLabs: Internet access to real labs – anywhere, anytime (http://icampus.mit.edu/iLabs/default.aspx, http://www.convergemag.com/edtech/Science-Labs-of-the-Future.html)

What is impact of lab-on-a-chip systems which will use nanoscale electrical fields to enable the detection and manipulation of cells and biomolecules (ie bringing lab to the patient insead of the other way around

From pkal: the lab of the future is digital, small, virtual, open, remote, augmented, synthetic; cultural, social, is a destination (http://www.pkal.org/documents/2003roundtable-futurelab.pdf

NSF FY Budget Request to Congress for 2009

Presented February 4th, 2008, the National Science Foundation budget of $6.85 billion includes $5.59 billion budget request for Research and Related activities!  Interesting chart breaking down budget request by scientific area of research as well as by strategic goals can be found at link below.   By dollars and % increase over 2008 budget request, “Mathematical and Phisical Sciences” leads budget allocation request.  “Discovery” leads as the number one strategic goal.

For article see: NSF Budget request

2007: Best places to work in Academia; Best Countries for Research and More

What researchers want:

Factors identified include job satisfaction, peers, management and policies, infrastructure, and research resources 

“…personal security in terms of pay, benefits, and a fair tenure-review process. Researchers today increasingly value institutions that can provide funding and infrastructure that will let them continue their research when federal income stalls.

Researchers are seeking alternatives:

“…Many scientists say that their foray outside of the university setting has been the best choice they could have made.”

More time for research:

 “…Andrea Cooper has experienced the advantages and disadvantages of each type of institution firsthand. She initially worked at a government lab, spent several years at Colorado State University, and then in 2002 joined fifth-ranking Trudeau Institute, a nonprofit based in Saranac Lake, NY. Classroom teaching was never Cooper’s forte, and she found that the administrative duties of the university were a distraction from her research. At Trudeau, where she studies the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, “I can spend 95% of my time doing research,” says Cooper.

Less time spent on writing for grant funding:

“…When Mary Carrington moved from a university to become a principal investigator in human genetics at the National Cancer Institute at Frederick, her publication record skyrocketed. At a government-run laboratory, “I’m not busy writing RO1 grants all the time,” she says. In the years she spent getting started as an independent researcher at 12th-ranking Duke, she published an average of five papers a year. Now, at NCI-Frederick, that number has jumped to approximately 14.

Bench to Bedside process:

“…Another advantage of medical centers and research hospitals, like this year’s top-ranking Mass General, is the ability to streamline the bench-to-bedside process, something nonprofit institutes and universities often struggle to achieve. Michael Dyer thought of himself as a straight basic researcher working on retinoblastoma, with no interest in translational medicine. But when he came to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, this year’s sixth-ranking US institution, Dyer was “inspired” to work with practicing doctors to bring his successful research projects to patients. At St. Jude, “You see patients, you see families; you’re reminded on a daily basis [of why you’re working there].”

Looking abroad:

“…International researchers are not unique to US laboratories. Many countries around the world boast of a highly diverse pool of researchers. In the United States, 31% of respondents said they were born outside the country. That number is higher in the United Kingdom, where 46% of respondents are international, and in Canada (with 55% international scientists), perhaps due to more stringent visa requirements in the United States.

“..This year, for the first time since the survey’s inception in 1993, Belgium was ranked the best country in which to do research. The country rebounded following a downward trend (from fourth to sixth place) from 2004 to 2006. India, a relative newcomer in the category of best country to work, beat research heavyweights such as the United Kingdom and Sweden for the second year in a row.”

See article, rankings, and methodology in The Scientist 


How small can labs get? Labs on a chip!

The developmet of new chip at MIT is able to sort and image small  animals like the 1-millimeter C. elegan inchworm.  Previous lab on a chip technology has been used to sort and image individual cells, but not whole animals. 

“…Scientists, using a new U.S.-developed “lab on a chip,” can now conduct genetic studies on whole small animals dramatically faster than has been possible.“…Researchers traditionally conduct genetic tests by treating the tiny animals with a mutagen, or by using RNA interference, in which expression of a certain gene is blocked with a small strand of RNA. Such studies normally take months or years to complete. The new chip can sort and image the C. elegans worm in milliseconds.”

See article in Science Daily

Also from article in Science Daily (September 25, 2007): 

Detecting Bird Flu: New Lab-on-chip Identifies H5N1 In Thirty Minutes

Lab on a chip design used to develop device to detect avian flu (H5N1) virus.  Detection from throat swab samples on site within 1/2 hour! 

Building tomorrow’s nanofactory

From Chemistry World preview article for November edition (19 October 2007):

“UK scientists have been granted £2.5 million to invent a nanomachine that can build materials molecule by molecule. ”

Research and related studies are cross-disciplinary and include physics, chemistry, computer scientists, and biology.  Universities performing this research or related work include:

University of Liverpool, University of Nottingham, University of Glasgow, Brunel University, and the University of Oxford

“…One of the projects, led by Rasmita Raval at the University of Liverpool, imagines creating a machine that can be instructed by computer to move molecules or atomic clusters as desired. Scanning tunnelling microscopes are already able to nudge atoms over surfaces, and image the result. But the goal now is to move into three dimensions, and to build a structural network of atoms. ”

“…A biological slant on the problem is taken by another EPSRC project, led by Andrew Turberfield at the University of Oxford. His team are copying nature’s matter compiler: the ribosome, which assembles proteins from strands of messenger RNA. Turberfield told Chemistry World that the plan was to create a machine acting as an artificial ribosome. Like nature’s ribosomes, it would run on an instruction tape: not RNA, but a strand of synthetic DNA, created by commercial solid-phase synthesis. The machine would read the tape, creating a strand of molecules and then linking them together in sequence, much as ribosomes do. Every component of the molecule-making factory would be a molecule itself. “

“…The ambitious projects, which are funded to 2010, …EPSRC are hoping to promote ‘transformative research’, …which would encourage scientists to think beyond their immediate research horizons and look for new collaborations…” 

Scientists develop Super Mouse

From article in The Rediff News Bureau:

November 02, 2007 13:29 IST

“Before Super Man comes the Super Mouse!American scientists have created a genetically modified ‘super mouse’ that boasts of astounding physical capabilities.The mouse can run for almost four miles at a steady speed of 20 metres per minute, without stopping for five hours or more.Not impressed?Let’s put it in human terms, then. Imagine cycling at speed up the Swiss Alps without a halt. This is the equivalent of what the super mouse does.”“…The genetically modified mouse eats up to 60 per cent more food than the normal rodent � but it doesn’t add a single ounce to its body weight.”“American scientists now have a breeding colony of 500 of such mice.”

“The super mouse was created as a result of a standard genetic modification to a metabolism gene mice share with humans. This gene is involved in glucose metabolism and, when altered, leads to efficient use of body fat for producing more energy. Usually, when this happens, there’s a build-up of lactic acid in the body, leading to muscle cramps which athletes know all about, but the genetically modified mice are immune to this.”

“…Richard Hanson, professor of biochemistry at Case Western Reserve University at Cleveland, Ohio, who led a 15-strong team of researchers, likened the super mice to Lance Armstrong cycling up the Pyrenees…”

“…’We humans have exactly the same gene, but it’s not something you’d do to a human. We do not think this mouse model is an appropriate one for human gene therapy, it would not be ethical to even try.”

For article see: Super Mouse

Biomedical Trends: New Tools, Personalized Medicine and Funding Stem Cell Research

From interview byTomorrow’s Business with Dr. Sean X Yu, Ph.D.
Vice President of Operations
SuperArray Bioscience Corporation:

“The Human Genome Research Project gave us the entire vast human genome to explore, but scientists usually have targeted, specific areas of interest, such as cancer cells or heart and lung,” said Dr. Yu. “SuperArray set out to simplify the research tools available to biomedical practitioners.” He added that the first genomic testing tools measured 20-30 thousand data points at the same time and could provide 20 thousand tests at once, “but that is usually too much information and causes information overload. Researchers need tools to translate complex data into usable, simple information about biological processes. Classically trained scientists also need analysis of this information.”

• “Genomic tools already in use are mostly in the areas of DNA and RNA expression levels. Proteomic tools are the next trend, and there is more emphasis on SNP’s by high through-put tools. The goal is to translate all of this to patient care tools, but we have a way to go. Public labs and private companies are working on this goal,” said Dr. Yu.”

See Pepper Moments for article and audio of interview.