Tetra Blasts Off at Boston’s Bio-IT World
Celebrating Bio-IT World’s 20th Anniversary
The annual Bio-IT World Conference & Expo brings together thought leaders, ideas, and opportunities that advance research and innovation in life sciences. This year, the conference was back in full swing for its 20th anniversary — and the energy was palpable. Boy, what a difference a year makes! With over 12 focused conference tracks spanning bioinformatics, data platforms, cloud computing, data science and analytics, digital biopharma – and many more – there was so much to soak in and learn!
This year’s keynote presenter was Professor George M. Church. Across his 40-year track record as an innovator and entrepreneur, Professor Church had an immeasurable influence on information science including cloud workflows, machine learning (ML) on CRISPR gRNAs, and genomic “writing” to drive down model and sequence costs. Tetra’s Chief Scientific Officer, Mike Tarselli, Ph.D., MBA had the great honor of introducing Prof. Church (one of his scientific heroes) to a packed room — standing room only with two additional overflow rooms also packed to the brim!!!
Professor Church’s session was titled, “Ask What IT Can Do for Bio…and What Bio Can Do for IT”, a deep session on ‘omics, engineered cell lines, and digital information storage inside a mouse genome. What was made abundantly clear in the presentation is how critically interdependent scientific research and informatics have become. As scientific data continues to explode along with its complexity, the scientific community invests heavily in technologies in order to efficiently support their research needs.
Scientific research is only as good as the technologies, methods, and strategies that can support it. Robust, scalable, and flexible technologies that can effectively manage data are critical today, as are the application of AI/ML in order to handle data’s volume and veracity. Prof. Church highlighted how the combination of machine learning and mega-libraries that store data are already having significant commercial impact — and the trend is only increasing.
Key themes bubbling around the conference, whether in the conference tracks and/or discussions around the exhibition floor focused on how organizations must begin planning and fully implementing data strategies that foster data liquidity, break down both organizational and data silos, and fuel collaboration in order to speed scientific innovation at scale.
Perhaps the most impactful for us was delivered by Angelika Fuchs, a digital leader at Roche, titled, “The Fully Digital Lab, will it be a reality in the next 5 years?”
Fuchs advanced four pillars during her presentation, around topics like:
- FAIR Data by Design
- Digital Workflow Automation (different, diverse groups could make use of workflow components)
- Just-in-time operations (knowing about lead times and delivery)
- Augmented decisions on all levels
Fuchs concluded that the full transformation would take ~8 years from its inception (Roche simply couldn’t invest “unlimited” money or resourcing). These solutions would need to be usable / applicable across a wide swath of use cases, with a balance between data harmonization and research flexibility (very similar to the arguments Tetra usually advances for adoption of a cloud-native data platform). Fuchs also sagely decided to form and cultivate a strong community aspect around the platform. Editorial note: We completely agree. This idea is one of the driving factors behind our Tetra Partner Network!
Meanwhile, on the exhibition floor, a steady stream of attendees explored the many digitally-native vendors hoping to address their challenges with data-driven decision making, high-performance computing in life sciences, next-gen AI-driven drug design, and automatic clinical trial matching. A veritable deluge of attendees stopped by our booth, eager to find a cloud-native, data-first solution. Visitors to the Tetra booth were treated to our Scientific Data Accelerator game. Towering at 10-feet tall and visible from the entire floor, it turned out to be devilishly tough to capture and gain value from scattered “lab” data flying around – much like in the real world.
What was most exciting was how quickly a bit of fun turned into deep conversations about connecting lab informatics systems like ELNs and LIMS, control software for automated instruments (e.g., HPLC, chromatography data systems), robotics, and standalone instruments like balances and pH meters, and how to automate the flow of scientific data within organizations. Thankfully, Team Tetra was there, ready to provide demos of the Tetra Data Platform (TDP) and information on how organizations can:
- Connect their entire ecosystem of instruments, informatics applications, and new/legacy software systems via productized, configurable integrations
- Automate the collection and harmonization of scientific data to the cloud in an enriched, universally adoptable, vendor-agnostic format
- Extract key insights and maximize AI/ML and advanced analytics by leveraging engineered, FAIR data
Tetra Partner Network: Maximum (Connected Ecosystem) Impact
We could not have been more excited for our partner, CellPort Software, who received this year’s Best in Show Award for their cloud-based cell processing software that has the potential to become the de facto standard laboratory management and sample management for emergent therapy modalities like cell and gene therapy. Congratulations Team CellPort!
We were stoked to see many members of the Tetra Partner Network, such as ChemAxon, RockStep, BIOVIA, PerkinElmer Informatics, EPAM, AWS, Indigo BioAutomation, and eLabNext at the show. Our own TPN team often had a line of people waiting to meet. It was exciting to see companies, large and small, working together to solve the greatest challenges in life sciences.
Closing Thoughts: “Magical” Solutions for Complex Challenges
On the last day of the conference, 100+ hardy souls joined Mike Tarselli for an AWS panel discussion led by Lita Sands, Head of Life Sciences at AWS; Mike Tirozzi, Vertex Chief Information & Data Officer; Anna Berg Åsberg, AstraZeneca Global VP R&D IT; and Dr. Bill Goodman, ThermoFisher Sr. Director of Product Management, Digital Science. The discussion, titled “Modernizing for the New Era of Life Sciences Innovations,” explored the underlying infrastructure behind some of the most innovative breakthroughs in the life sciences industry and broke down how leading organizations approach their cloud migration journey.
This panel discussion touched on many different topics, but a few important ideas stood out. In particular, Åsberg mentioned how her department at AstraZeneca had to “start small, and SCALE FAST” to maximize ROI and quickly learn if a solution could be impactful. Goodman noted Thermo’s desire to gain deeper business insights in order to optimize instrument operational capital. Tirozzi discussed how Vertex’s “all-in” take cloud-first and cloud-native solutions led his team to look outside of traditional life sciences to find new approaches to solve the pressing problems for Vertex. All of these discussions revolve around using data and technology to address biopharma industry challenges.
During the panel’s closing remarks, Tetra’s Tarselli drew inspiration from the famous Arthur C. Clarke “indistinguishable from magic” quote regarding complex solutions to life sciences data challenges. Specifically, Tetra envisions a world in which current tasks like tech transfer, CRO reporting, epigenetics, and data format interconversion can be completed without manual human intervention. A frictionless world, where data moves in liquid, compliant fashion to where it’s needed, when it’s needed, to drive project decisions.
Were you at Bio-IT? Trying to solve problems like those we’ve mentioned, above? Interested in learning more about unlocking the full value of your scientific data? Drop us a line!