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Lab WorkFlow
Infrastructure Lab WorkFlow Instrument Workflow Distributed Architecture





This figure illustrates a typical laboratory workflow for analyzing samples and integrating information from other data sources.  It shows a central loop where experiments have samples that are analyzed with instrument specific SOPs. The SOPs are derived from manufacturer assay protocols and methods and from journal references (not shown). An instrument may use manufacturer supplied components such as microarray chips, nano-fluidic chips, Gels and microtitre plates, may use special reagents and may involve linking of instruments such as LC-MS and utilize robotics. Instrument manufacturers develop firmware to control an instrument and applications with supporting data (e.g. site specific microarray target identification) to analyze measurements to generate results.  The central loop is a feedback loop which is driven by events, results and data mining from other data sources which may suggest modifications of SOPs, more experiments and/or different validating experiments.

The goal of this view is to emphasize that an experiment should not be viewed in isolation, but rather as part of an integrated system.  That is, not only will experimental results be analyzed alone; the results will be merged, integrated and analyzed with data from previous experiments, with results from multi-vendor instruments and with other data sources.

This has wide sweeping implications because it means that instrument manufacturers must supply their reference data and formats of raw measurements and analysis results. That is, it should be easily consumed electronically for downstream merging and processing with third-party and in-house applications. That is, instrument manufacturers need to take a more global approach since a laboratory may have similar instruments from competing manufacturers where the data from each must be integrated, analyzed and validated together. It  also means that laboratories must have an informatics infrastructure that supports management of Projects and an analysis infrastructure that supports disparate data types and instruments.

Inherent in any laboratory workflow is an experimental design approach as depicted in the following figure presented in June 1999 at UC Davis.  The figure shows a central workflow, in red outlined boxes, that is driven and controlled by Experimental Design, feedback loops, downstream applications and data repositories. It further shows how important integration of disparate types of data and information from an array of instruments and analysis algorithms is for experimental design.





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Last modified: January 12, 2014