Merging Open Tools to Create Highly Reproducible Experiments
Are you always starting from scratch while setting up a new biological experiment that involves pipetting, liquid handling and microscopy? Then let’s join forces and create an open web platform that simplifies planning experiments using open-source laboratory tools!
Science lives from the curiosity to get to the bottom of problems and from the subsequent discussion, where scientists exchange knowledge and opinions to finally come up with new questions. However, as a recent study showed, the vast majority of the experiments conducted within publications can often only be replicated partially, if at all, which contributes to the rising disbelief from society into scientific practice .
Open-source tools, such as 3D printed microscopes, open-source image process algorithms and easy-to-build microfluidic setups for complex biological experiments, help here, by uniting sciences through do-it-yourself laboratory setups that are accessible to everyone. However, the lack of a common standard for their documentation and control very often requires users to spend a lot of time getting the devices to work, which leaves users unproductive and frustrated.
Here, we envision an open online-based platform that pools knowledge and resources to provide an easy-to-use interface between different lab components and thus better interaction between scientific disciplines. In addition, it should provide a modular framework that allows people to design their biological protocol using drag and drop graphical interface (e.g. Google Blockly). The protocol can be exported an run on the local computer, which organizes device control and data management. The combination of easy-to-use control and analysis software, autonomous advanced biological experiments can be planned and experimental data (temperature, concentration, image recordings, etc.) can be recorded. The data offer the potential to create fully reproducible complex biological experiments where the protocol is published along with the publication. Ultimately, the ease of use of such tools invites new people to develop new tools, questions and answers and promotes the contribution to scientific progress on a global scale.
Benedict Diederich, Lindau Alumnus 2021
Leibniz Institute for Photonic Technology, Germany