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News / 10.25.07

Broad technician honored for data solution

By Leah Eisenstadt, Communications
Meghan-Bliss MoreauMeghan-Bliss Moreau
Photo by Maria Nemchuk

A major challenge for biologists in today’s era of large-scale experimentation is data management – storing, securing, and accessing the measurements, images, and other results that are essential to scientific discovery. Meghan Bliss-Moreau, a research technician in the Chemical Biology Program at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, is one of the institute’s professionals who work daily to meet that challenge. Bliss-Moreau was recently recognized for her poster illustrating her team’s efforts to improve the program’s screening abilities. At the October 16 meeting of the New England chapter of the Lab Robotics Interest Group, she was awarded second place for her poster describing an innovative solution for managing microscopic data and images.

In work detailed in the poster, Bliss-Moreau collaborated with senior assay developer Lynn VerPlank, head of screening Nicola Tolliday, and technology specialists Michelle Campo and Matthew Trunnell to create an original system for managing and accessing the great volume of images taken with the screening program’s network of microscopes. “In our screening group, we’re acquiring terabytes and terabytes of data that need to be managed, and the volume of data will only increase after our group installs its new fully automated screening system,” said Bliss-Moreau. By approaching the problem collaboratively, she and the other poster authors developed and implemented a solution that improves the current process and prepares the screening group for its anticipated scale-up.

The new, custom data management system provides storage that is of higher capacity and more secure and efficient than what is provided by instrument manufacturers. Images that were previously stored on individual computer hard drives are now kept on the Broad’s internal servers, allowing users throughout the Broad to access them from a number of computer workstations. The system is also more stable and secure than local hard drives.

The team’s inventive approach has generated interest from other research institutions and members of the lab equipment and pharmaceutical industries, and now that the details of the system have been publicly released, other groups may benefit from work discussed in the poster. “The more we establish this kind of system,” she said, “the more we can do novel things and really push the science.” With the team’s customizable approach to managing data from high-content screens, Bliss-Moreau will be on hand to assist in integrating the group’s new automated screening system, helping provide scientists both within and beyond the Broad with a powerful platform for answering biological questions.

Poster cited:

Bliss-Moreau M, et al. Solutions for high content screening data management. New England Chapter of the Lab Robotics Interest Group, 2007 Vendor Exhibition. October 16, 2007. Cambridge, MA.