By Dominik Domanski, Ph.D., Adjunct (PI of FNP First Team grant)
Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences
• Can you tell us a bit more about your work and what do you find most interesting about it?
Since September of last year I have led my very own and first research group. I’m a young PI leading a grant funded by the FNP (Foundation for Polish Science) called First Team.
I have three doctoral students underneath me and we are located in a mass spectrometry laboratory performing proteomics research in the areas of lung and breast cancer. More specifically, and what is interesting about our work, is that the project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between doctors and oncologists, and us as proteomics researchers working to solve specific problems in the diagnosis of these cancers, aiming to reach practical solutions that can improve patient welfare in the clinic.
For lung cancer, our aim is to develop a non-invasive diagnostic test based on the proteomic analysis of specific marker proteins present in patient pleural effusions which would preclude the use of highly invasive procedures that patients now often undergo. In breast cancer, we are assessing specific indicator proteins whose measurement could guide oncologists towards the use of more effective therapy.
“We hope that such an interdisciplinary interaction of cutting-edge technology and medicine will result in research findings being applied as practical tools at the patient bedside.”
• How did you decide to start using an electronic lab notebook?
I have used other LIMS-type software at large mass spectrometry core facilities previously and I therefore understood the advantages of such applications when working in teams on multiple projects over long periods of time.
“Now, starting a new research team from zero gave me the opportunity to introduce better organization right from the start in my new lab.”
Knowing that I will need to keep track of multiple projects being performed by multiple students for the next few years made it logical for me to look for an electronic lab notebook.
• Which were the main reasons that you chose SciNote?
In my previous experience at the large mass spectrometry laboratories, where a high throughput of samples and projects were being analyzed, custom made LIMS systems were used.
These were custom designed for the organization, but very expensive, and not “user friendly”.
SciNote at first sight appeared attractive, from its website to the web application itself, it all seemed user friendly and intuitive in its function.
“We could test it for free, and decide on how it works in our team before any further commitments.”
• How much time did it take you to get familiar with SciNote in the beginning and start using it?
“It did not take long. After watching the first video tutorial it was easy to start using SciNote.”
• How does SciNote fit into your workdays and where is it most helpful?
SciNote now mainly helps me to keep track and coordinate what my students are doing during the specific tasks at hand. It is great to see what was just done and what were the results from our planned experiments.
In the future I believe this storage of well-organized information will be very helpful in going back to see/re-check what was done in a given experiment and definitely will be instrumental in writing methods for publications.
It’s very nice to look quickly at experiments/tasks visually organized and we can quickly look at information about what was done, what the results were, see any attached files quickly that are useful.
“It’s much faster than looking for info in lab notebooks and looking for files on a computer.”
• Which are the benefits of using SciNote i.e. what do you like most about it?
The visual user friendly interface is great and key to its usefulness. I like being able to open attached files in Online Microsoft applications like Excel or Word to quickly look at results.
The option of having inventories and protocols, although I only briefly used them so far, are definitely a great way of keeping organized.
“For example, we can have one centralized location to retrieve all the important and working protocols for experiments. The inventories we can use for sample storage locations and chemical reagent inventories.”
• What is your experience with the SciNote team?
“Very fast and responsive to questions. Very helpful and professional.”
• Would you recommend SciNote to other scientists and why?
I would, especially to other scientists that are leading teams of technicians and students working on multiple projects in a research setting.