Using a Digital Lab Notebook in the War Against Cancer

Lab Organization

digital lab notebook
Despite less federal funding for cancer research, new breakthroughs promise effective treatment plans. A digital lab notebook can bring these cures to patients faster.
Image source: National Cancer Institute via Wikipedia Commons


How does a digital lab notebook relate to cancer research? Some people call cancer the Emperor of Maladies. I don’t consider that hyperbolic. In fact, I think it’s frighteningly accurate. Cancer used to be something that happened to other people, but these days we all probably know someone whose life has been affected by the disease. Fortunately, researchers have found that the use of a digital lab notebook can help to make great strides in the fight against cancer.

Despite sustained interest in finding a cure, federal funding for cancer research has decreased over the past decade; this has shifted the burden to states and private companies to step up their efforts. While the situation has led to research decentralization, it does bring some advantages. It offers opportunities for increased collaboration between scientists. Competition between private companies vying for market dominance may spur on faster development of medications, including new technology including the use of a digital lab notebook. These new developments are certainly not a bad thing for cancer patients facing few options after other treatment methods have failed.

Although chemotherapy has served as the primary mode of treatment for decades, a new method presents a radical paradigm shift. It involves genetically engineering white blood cells to attack cancer cells. The results look promising. Patients previously afflicted with aggressive blood cancers now live disease-free. The current question looming in many researchers’ minds is whether this form of therapy can also be effective against lung or breast cancer.

With such novel approaches coming down the pipeline, it makes sense for researchers to adopt all of the technology available. As Novartis Chief Executive Joseph Jimenez said, “You’re talking about patients who are about to die.” Research must proceed as quickly as possible without compromising safety. A digital lab notebook, in particular, can benefit cancer treatment development by offering a few distinct advantages.

Centralized Data

Given the scope of cancer research, it’s likely that multiple researchers will be assigned to a project. Each person will be given a specific target or task upon which to focus their efforts. As a result, it’s common for each scientist to manage their own data. However, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

With digital lab notebooks, researchers can store their data in a centralized location. Both results and important notes are in the same place. Given a current funding environment that encourages many different firms to spearhead research, this can encourage productive collaborations. Everyone involved in a project can access the most current information at any time without having to wait.

Data Analysis

Digital lab notebooks come equipped with tools that allow for easy management. All data is indexed, making it searchable; this allows researchers to pull out the relevant data sets for analysis.

The indexing system also lets you search through laboratory notes along with numerical data. With research pushing into new territory, this ability can become especially useful. Who could have predicted that a modified strain of HIV would pave the way for the most promising treatment seen in decades? Being able to sort through electronic notes rather than flipping through multiple paper notebooks to look for patterns can only inspire more innovative approaches.

Increased Efficiency

As of right now, newer immunotherapy treatments are still in experimental trials. They’re offered to people for who have exhausted all other avenues. Pushing these methods to clinical trials, in the hopes of meeting approval baselines is paramount. The urgency begs for streamlining wherever possible.

With a digital lab notebook, the time researchers spend on documentation is eliminated because data transfer from instrumentation can be automated. Unnecessary repetition of experiments no longer needs to happen due to lost data. Both of these things free up researchers to focus on more productive tasks.

The current era of cancer research presents a strange dichotomy. Although federal funding has decreased, its prevalence in our society has only risen. Even so, we have many technologies currently at our disposal and the future for finding an effective cure looks bright.

Are you interested in learning how the data management features of a digital lab notebook can benefit your research? Visit our website to learn more about the BIOVIA Notebook today.

One thought on “Using a Digital Lab Notebook in the War Against Cancer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *