Science at Your Fingertips - Across the Enterprise

An interview with Graham McGibbon, Director of Strategic Partnerships, ACD/Labs
July 26, 2022

ACD/Labs have supported and accompanied scientists worldwide for decades. Starting with gold standard expertise in NMR software, they’ve continued to make leading contributions to laboratory science that increase the value of scientific research and analysis. We are honored to welcome ACD/Labs to the Tetra Partner Network and are delighted to share a recent conversation with Graham McGibbon, Director of Strategic Partnerships, ACD/Labs. 

ACD/Labs have been producing scientific software for small molecule research for almost 30 years. What aspects of your company and software are you most proud of?

For those researchers that have been in this industry and followed ACD/Labs for years, we have always been known for our NMR processing and prediction software capabilities and we still remain the gold standard today. However, that is not the only area that ACD/Labs has taken the lead, but also in the ability to provide chemical and analytical data context for a majority of life sciences organizations worldwide. Over the last 5 years ACD/Labs has expanded beyond thick client deployments to provide web-enabled enterprise-wide applications in support of Analytical Data Management Systems (ADMS), High-throughput Experimentation (HTE) capabilities, high-throughput parallel medicinal chemistry, and CMC decision support capabilities. ACD/Labs is very proud of its ability to continue to create value in all of the organizations that it serves. 

Over the last 5 years ACD/Labs has expanded beyond thick client deployments to provide web-enabled enterprise-wide applications

What are some notable facts that you can share about your customers and how you’re helping them?

  • 4,600 R&D organization customers; >85% world’s top 50 pharma/biopharma and biotechs use ACD/Labs software; >90% of our clients choose to continue using our software year over year, and we have customers with deployments of our software in 89 countries around the world.
  • We sell across many industries including AgroChemicals, chemicals and materials science, CPG, and food and beverage. Pharma/BioPharma make up the majority of our client list.

Our customer report:

  • 84% time savings for process chemistry experiments
  • 33% faster regulatory submissions by better data access and management
  • Efficiency gains
       - Using ACD/Labs software 1 person in 2 weeks did what would normally have taken 4 people 3 months to do!
        - A scientist unskilled in HTE designed a 96-well experiment in less than 5 mins and got into the lab to run them the same day
        - NMR data processing and analysis times decreased from 15 mins per spectrum, to 15 spectra per minute with automation!
        - Shorter method development time, higher quality methods, and successful transfer of methods from development to quality control (QC) labs1
  • Break-even for an automated structure verification solution reported at 1 year for ≥ 50 FTE chemists, or 1–3 years for <50 FTE chemists

In what types of pharma/biopharma research does ACD/ Labs make the largest contributions?

ACD/Labs software is deployed across pharma and biopharma from early discovery, through lead optimization and selection to late development and post-approval. 

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Areas of R&D supported by ACD/Labs software and technologies

In early discovery, our software supports the design of new chemical entities with physicochemical and ADME/Tox property profiles that will make them successful candidates for development. Our predictive algorithms for pKa, logP, and logD are industry-standard; and our chemical nomenclature is second-to-none.

Our predictive algorithms for pKa, logP, and logD are industry-standard; and our chemical nomenclature is second-to-none.

In lead optimization and scale-up (through discovery and development) we support reaction planning and execution (including high throughput experimentation and parallel chemistry), method development, impurity identification and control, and expert tools for structure verification, characterization, and elucidation using analytical chemistry (NMR, Raman, IR, UV and a variety of solid state and other analytical methods). We also provide method development and optimization for LC and GC. Our chemical and analytical data management technologies support stability (or forced degradation) studies, extractables and leachables studies, and route and process development and process control. ACD/Labs software provides decision support and data management when time is of the essence in the drug R&D lifecycle. 

Finally, once products go into manufacturing the controls and reference data developed and managed in ACD/Labs software help with impurity troubleshooting and ensure robust and efficient QA/QC.

Traditionally our software has been focused in the small molecule R&D space. Over the last decade we have expanded software functionality to the large molecule space starting with chromatographic method development and optimization and representation of large molecules for publication and communication purposes.

Read more about how ACD/Labs serves pharma/biopharma

ACD/Labs offers solutions for mass spectrometry, liquid chromatography, multi-technique spectroscopy, and NMR. Why this focus and what are the challenges in handling these large scientific data sets?

These analytical techniques are the most prevalent for comprehensive material characterizations revealing composition and substance identities, as well as providing understanding of chemical processes in relationship to molecular structures.  Data processing, interpretation and handling can be challenging because those data are often multidimensional and usually feature rich and non-trivial to decipher, particularly when many molecules are detected.

What role do partnerships play in your solutions?

ACD/Labs solutions are aided by partners in many ways, from algorithms and content to specialized technology pieces, which enable richer, more seamless, and complete user experiences. We value our large network of partners that include equipment and instrument manufacturers, collaborators on industry standards, and technology partners. Our partnerships enable us to offer vendor agnostic analytical data handling and management; and help our clients connect our technologies with existing infrastructure, and future-proof their informatics landscape.

How has ACD/Labs responded to customer needs for a digitally connected lab and infrastructure?

Customer requests are backing ongoing modernization of ACD/Labs Spectrus platform architecture, API, and client user interfaces, as well as enhancements to automation and configurability of our solutions. The goal is to connect consumers of information to the standardized data and interpreted results they seek, which comes via instrument data sources or other informatics systems such as the Tetra Scientific Data Cloud. 

What is the value of being part of the Tetra Partner Network?

The network enables a powerful federated technologies approach, free of the monolithic architectures and silos of the past. This offers customers the ability to make choices in their data mesh, equipment, methods, applications, and workflows, while having effective and simple-to-connect software tools. 

What excites you about the future of laboratory science?

It is exciting that there is a rapidly growing awareness of the value of structured scientific data and information while simultaneously there are rapid developments of tools and interfaces that are simplifying and democratizing accelerated access to that data for faster and better innovation.