IT Solutions

Finding a Cure for Spinal Cord Injury

Aug 03 2010

Author: Dr Vance Lemmon &Don Crossett

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The Miami Project Research Faculty, part of Finding a Cure for Spinal Cord Injury the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is a multidisciplinary team of investigators with a common goal - to conduct neuroscience research that addresses traumatic injury to the central nervous system and that ultimately leads to new or improved treatments for spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders. Its research team is made up of basic and clinical scientists with expertise in critical areas of neuroscience.

The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis has a dedicated laboratory devoted to highcontent screening (HCS) of neurons. The laboratory is run by Dr Vance Lemmon and Dr John Bixby and is known as the LemBix Laboratory. The laboratory adopted a laboratory information management system (LIMS) to help manage and automate the vast amount of data. The result is that the LemBix laboratory has improved efficiencies, productivity and sample integrity by implementing integrated laboratory workflows and automating data management. The LIMS implementation encompasses an on-demand solution that serves the needs of the project’s goals – to manage its workflows and operations in the most efficient and effective way to turn data into knowledge.

The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis is the world’s most comprehensive spinal cord injury research centre, housed in the Lois Pope LIFE Centre, a Centre of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The Miami Project’s international team of more than 200 scientists, researchers and clinicians take innovative approaches to the challenge of spinal cord injury.

Injury to the central nervous system (CNS) has devastating effects on the structure and function of the brain and spinal cord. Since the early 1980s, immense research progress has been made and has given hope that injuries to the CNS will one day be repairable. Still, there is much that researchers need to learn about the complex processes that occur in the brain and spinal cord after injury, and how those processes can be changed or reversed. Miami Project investigators carry out a broad scope of research to address the consequences of neurological injuries.

The goal of the LemBix laboratory is to uncover signal pathways, genes, compounds, or drugs that can be used to promote nerve growth. HCS of various libraries on primary neurons requires that the team of scientists follow a variety of process steps and employ complex manipulations of cells and libraries to obtain meaningful results. The approach of HCS itself produces vast amounts of data in the form of images and well-based and cell-based phenotypic measures. A single experiment can generate data from 300,000 neurons with 120 parameters per cell. Managing sample workflow and library data, along with the extensive amount of experimental results is a considerable challenge. The laboratory needed an informatics solution to meet the ever growing data deluge and to turn data into knowledge.


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