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For E-Notebook system, it's official
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Following a one-year pilot effort during which selected researchers at the University of Antwerp in Belgium used CambridgeSoft's E-Notebook system as the primary laboratory notebook to replace their traditional paper recording keeping, the tool has now found a more permanent home there. In mid-June, CambridgeSoft announced a university-wide deployment of E-Notebook that will encompass all members of the medicinal chemistry, organic synthesis, genomics, biochemistry pharmacology and other disciplines that have benefitted from E-Notebook so far.
CambridgeSoft's E-Notebook is an enterprise-oriented electronic laboratory management (ELN) system designed to help researchers capture all of the data from their laboratory experiments, not just in terms of analytical instrument output but also including data within Microsoft Office documents, chemical and biological structures, and images.
According to Michael G. Tomasic, president and CEO of CambridgeSoft, data within E-Notebook is securely stored and archived within an Oracle database infrastructure which is 21CFR part 11 compliant and also has intellectual property protections. In addition, the search capabilities of E-Notebook reportedly facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration across an organization.
This is useful, note officials at CambridgeSoft and the university, as scientists within the University of Antwerp have developed a range of lab-specific and department-specific configurations which specifically address the needs of each research group.
"E-Notebook has made it possible to manage our research data more efficiently and increase available research time as well as facilitate data exchange with supervisors and co-workers resulting in an overall improved quality of data," says Dr. Jurgen Joossens, project manager for drug discovery and medicinal chemistry at the University of Antwerp. "Moreover, due to the digital data exchange between E-Notebook and analytical equipment the amount of paper usage has been significantly reduced."
He also notes that E-Notebook has also led to increased quality of data, improved data management in general and an excellent search functionality.
The university's intellectual property (IP) manager, Dr. Pascale Redig, adds that "The E-Notebook system enables the university to set out an efficient IP policy. By storing the data in an efficient and well-organized way through the ELN system, defining and dating of possible inventions becomes more straightforward. E-Notebook helps us to define inventors and to further substantiate patent claims."
Furthermore, the system documents the know-how and IP that is present before a certain date, Redig notes, which helps because, having many research collaborations with external partners, "it is important for the university to be able to allocate the right research results to the right project."
Last but not least, Redig says, "having a professional ELN system on campus makes us more attractive to industrial partners who can be assured that the project data is not only generated but also stored according to the state of the art."
Tomasic sees the deployment as a natural and effective complement to what is already happening increasingly outside academic institutions, noting, "We believe that academic institutions and research institutes can highly benefit from the collaborative platform E-Notebook is providing to our pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical customers."
According to Joossens, there are roughly 100 full-time users of the E-Notebook system right now, but those numbers are continuing to grow.
As far as the success of the deployment and any challenges it posed, CambridgeSoft's project representative Rene Simons says they were about normal for any implementation. But looking more broadly, "the deployment really shows the flexibility of the CambridgeSoft's E-Notebook to support so many different departments all with their own special requirements."
During the pilot deployment, for example, the challenge was to help the university to introduce a security level that each group has its own administrator and was able to configure and introduce workflows to their own needs without interfering with other workflows or configurations, Simons says. Each group is anonymous to the other groups and there is one administrator who secures the overall access rights.
"It's a great experience to recognize after all that, with a minimum involvement from the vendor, the system is tailored to the individual needs," Simons says. "I trust that the university has something special to offer to their new students and to the industry. Data generated in collaboration with external partners is now IP secured and available to share by using the available open standards like XML or PDF."