This month’s newsletter will focus on the people, process, product (PPP) model, how it can be applied to address reproducibility concerns in stem cell science, and how the CultureTrax platform can be a key component in addressing those concerns within the framework of this model. The framework is broken down into three equal portions that have to work together in order for any endeavor to be successful.
The first leg of the triad are the People involved in the research process. This includes scientists, researchers, lab technicians, and other stakeholders. In the context of reproducibility in stem cell science, the People aspect involves ensuring that researchers are adequately trained,skilled, and knowledgeable about the methods and techniques used in stem cell research. It also involves promoting a culture of transparency, collaboration,and adherence to best practices in the scientific community.
The CultureTrax platform’s protocol template was built on the principle of structured flexibility. The structure to inform users, to guide them through complex workflows, but also to have the flexibility to adapt to the inherent variability of a biological system. This structured flexibility helps train naïve users in the complexity of stem cell culture, with step-by-step methods, example images, and even embedded videos, while also allowing more experienced scientists to use their experience to inform decision points. The CultureTrax platform has also been designed to foster collaboration. When a bench scientist starts a new batch of cells in culture, a culture track, they have the ability to share it with everyone in their lab. In this way, work can be handed off with minimal effort and with confidence that it will be correctly completed and documented. Checkout our 2018 grant study Controlled Study Measuring the Impact of the CultureTrax Software Application on Reproducing a Stem Cell Protocol that verifies that CultureTrax aids in training new cell culture technicians and aids in bringing them up to competency.
The second leg of the triad is the Process, which encompasses the methodologies, protocols, and workflows used in stem cell research. Ensuring reproducibility involves standardizing and documenting research protocols meticulously. This includes details about cell culture techniques, reagent sources, experimental conditions, and data analysis methods. Having clear, well-defined processes helps minimize variability and facilitates the replication of experiments by other researchers.
The CultureTrax platform takes the paper protocol and breaks it down into actions, feed, passage, etc., along with the materials and methods, and places them along a timeline, what we call the protocol template. Being a template, it can be reused over and over again to ensure standardization. Standardization not only in executing complex workflows, but standardization in recording the data from these workflows. The protocol template creates a clearly defined timeline for the execution of various actions, along with detailed instructions on the formulation of the materials as well as their use.
The third leg of the triad is the Product which, in the case of stem cell science, refers to the outcomes of research efforts, including published papers, datasets, and experimental findings. In the context of stem cell research reproducibility, the Product aspect involves promoting open access to data, sharing protocols, and making research findings and materials readily available for validation and replication. Transparent reporting of results and rigorous peer review processes are essential to ensure the credibility and reliability of scientific products.
CultureTrax facilitates this in several ways. The protocol template in CultureTrax takes the materials and methods from a paper culture protocol and puts them along a timeline that informs the scientists but allows for the inherent variability of cell biology. All of this information can be downloaded using the report generator, which takes the protocol template and puts it into an easy-to-follow Word document format. It includes all of the actions, the associated materials, both single ingredient and recipe, as well as reference materials. This is packaged into a zipped folder along with all of the associated documents which can easily be sent to your collaborators to facilitate a more efficient tech transfer.
The record of the cell culture can be shared either in the form of a downloadable JSON file or in a human readable PDF file format. This enables the data to either be uploaded into a data analytics platform or simply forwarded to your collaborators.
To sum it up, CultureTrax platform addresses and supports all three aspects of the People, Process, and Product model in supporting reproducibility in stem cell science. From the perspective of the People, the standardized formatting, both in workflows and data recording helps to train and bring all members of a lab to the same level of competency and the built in collaborator functionality allows for ease of sharing and transparency.
From the Process side, CultureTrax platforms standardized methodologies, protocols, and workflows ensure reproducibility by standardizing and documenting research protocols meticulously. These well-defined processes help minimize variability and facilitate the replication of experiments by other researchers.
And finally on the aspect of the Product, the CultureTrax protocol template can be downloaded into a word document that contains materials, actions, timing, and reference information used to produce the cells, facilitating tech transfer, while the built in collaborator functionality ensures transparency in the lab.
By focusing on improving the expertise of researchers (People), refining research methodologies (Process), and ensuring transparent and accessible research outcomes (Product), the PPP model, when used in conjunction with CultureTrax, can contribute significantly to addressing the challenge of reproducibility in stem cell science.