By Maureen McDonough
July 20, 2005 | The NIH Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC) will use Genedata’s Screener software system to collect and analyze data generated from its small-molecule library project. The NCGC is the first component of the NIH Roadmap to deliver new chemical tools for biomedical research.
The NCGC opened its laboratory doors in February, designed to screen thousands of small molecules in assays submitted by the research community. One advantage has been the lack of legacy data or structure to integrate.
“We knew this would be a golden opportunity to start new without legacy systems,” says James Inglese, director of the biomolecular screening and profiling division. This provided NCGC the unique ability to implement whichever system they felt best fit their needs.
“Scientists are used to either hidden analysis or a very cumbersome process,” says Michael Lindemann, Genedata’s business manager for the Screener software products. Screener, however, is designed to work in a more interactive fashion. Researchers can view more than 5,000 plates simultaneously. Failed plates stand out and can be viewed by zooming into the display.
A second feature applicable to the NCGC’s needs is Screener’s dose response curve module, called Condoseo. It typically takes 16 hours for a researcher to fit and review a thousand dose response curves, making such analysis prohibitive, Lindemann says.
“Our customers turned to us and said, ‘We need a tool that allows us to screen a thousand dose response curves.’ And we met that challenge for them,” Lindemann says. By automating the process, Genedata cut the analysis time down to an hour.
The NCGC has completed its first screen using the software and professes to being pleased with the results. Satisfying Genedata’s understandable desire for feedback to improve the system isn’t easy, however, as NCGC staff have yet to learn how to utilize all of Screener’s analytic capabilities. “Data analysis is one piece of the high-throughput screening process,” Lindemann says. And NCGC researchers have plenty to keep them busy from establishing a small-molecule library to building a Web site for the dissemination of results.