The Pistoia Alliance calls for support of ‘Lab of the Future’

The Pistoia Alliance, a global not for profit alliance that works to lower barriers to innovation in life sciences R&D, is calling upon the industry to support the ‘Lab of the Future’ through greater collaboration. At The Pistoia Alliance’s annual EU member conference in London, president of the Pistoia Alliance Dr Steve Arlington urged stakeholders to come together to help technology continue to drive change in the industry. Other speakers from Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, and SAP also discussed how future technologies like AI and the use of Real World Data (RWD) will contribute to the development of the lab. The goal was to identify key areas where The Pistoia Alliance can set up collaborative projects that will make a real difference to research and ultimately to patients.

William (Bill) Burns, former CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals and now a member of The Pistoia Alliance’s Advisory Board spoke to Alliance members on the current models of pharmaceutical R&D and the commercial challenges the industry faces. Bill discussed how society’s desire for new medicines and healthcare intervention has grown, but that there is a funding gap in how innovations are delivered.

The theme for the conference was ‘Hack the Lab’ and the event brought together stakeholders from life sciences, healthcare, academia, and technology. The hackathon entailed a series of challenges focused on AI insight and health and safety for the Lab of The future. Participants built prototypes to show how to use AI to interpret instrument logs and to find novel uses for datasets and associated lab data. Participants experimented with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Microsoft Cortana, as well as AR interfaces, VR headsets, and ‘smart’ glasses. Among the winners were a team from The University of Southampton, who created a ‘friendly’ lab safety assistant based on Alexa, using data from The Pistoia Alliance’s Chemical Safety Library.

“For the past 20 years the lab has looked largely the same. But in that time, how scientists and researchers work and live has changed dramatically. If pharmaceutical companies want to support R&D outcomes that truly benefit patients, then building the Lab of the Future is paramount,” commented Dr Steve Arlington, President, The Pistoia Alliance. “R&D budgets in the life sciences are under greater strain than ever before. Couple this with increasingly stringent regulatory issues and the shifting political situation around Brexit – and pharmaceutical companies are under pressure to deliver. They must now seek ways to amplify their budgets by exploring future technologies that will change the lives of patients.”