An Interview with Yun Zhao, Admera Health: Using Connected Tools in the Lab
Pipetting insights and digital records of your protocols are at your fingertips with TRACKMAN® Connected, a tablet with accessories and apps that makes pipetting on microplates faster, with greater traceability and reproducibility. The apps are designed to work with PIPETMAN® M Connected pipettes and will trace each step of your protocol, which is accurately captured in a digital file.
This file can be easily downloaded at the end of the day, shared, and reviewed at your convenience, saving time, effort, and cost in the “Reproducibility Crisis” that affects most labs.
This technology intrigued Admera Health, an advanced molecular diagnostic company that focuses on personalized medicine. Recently, we spoke with Yun Zhao, the Director of the Biopharma Services Department at the company to discuss his research and how he is using Gilson connected tools in the lab.
Yun Zhao, Director of Biopharma Services at Admera Health
What is the main focus of your research?
Yun Zhao (YZ): The main focus of our research is personalized medicine. As such, the company is divided into two parts: first, we produce in vitro diagnostics in the form of pharmacogenomic testing, next-generation sequencing of solid tumors, liquid biopsies for cancers, and genetic tests for cardiovascular disease prediction and differential diagnoses. Second, we have a research sector wherein we partner with biopharmaceutical companies, biotech companies, and academic researchers to provide sequencing and bioinformatic services.
How does TRACKMAN® Connected fit into your workflows?
YZ: Our workflows are quite involved, as the assays require multiple transfer steps from one well to another in a 96-well plate, or from various wells to a single reaction vessel. Previously, we needed many people to run our protocols with the pipetting volumes and processes efficiently, but now TRACKMAN® Connected automates this process. We import a CSV file to the PipettePilot® app that contains our pipetting protocol and volumes, and the pipette automatically adjusts the volume for us. Then on the tablet screen, the application reminds us of which well we need to dispense the sample. TRACKMAN® Connected also captures our activities, which helps us to see the order in which we pipetted and identify any missed steps.
Since TRACKMAN® Connected records every move, it helps us reduce errors by improving our accuracy. We’re pipetting volumes as low as one or two microliters, so if our pipetting volume is off by just a tiny amount, it could cause our protocols to fail. I like how TRACKMAN® Connected helps me manage my pipetting volumes in an easy and traceable way.
What types of liquids do you use with your Gilson pipettes?
YZ: When we’re handling the final library, the sequencing sample usually contains about 20 microliters of Tr is-EDTA (TE) or elution buffer (EB). For the library prep, the liquid contains substantially more enzymes and about five to ten percent glycerol, which makes it very viscous. So far, we have not experienced any problems with accuracy while using the Gilson pipettes.
Why did you choose to incorporate TRACKMAN® Connected into your workflows?
YZ: Since TRACKMAN® Connected records every move, it helps us reduce errors by improving our accuracy. We’re pipetting volumes as low as one or two microliters, so if our pipetting volume is off by just a tiny amount, it could cause our protocols to fail. I like how TRACKMAN® Connected helps me manage my pipetting volumes in an easy and traceable way.
I also like how it guides and catches my pipetting activities across a 96-well plate. The system takes the guessing out of our pipetting protocol. We can keep track of all pipetting activities and then look back at the data to see where we made a mistake, which helps us to catch our errors before they cause problems down the road.
Have you seen any improvements in your data or workflows since you adopted this system? For instance, has it improved the quality of your data?
YZ: Honestly, before we adopted TRACKMAN® Connected, our group did an outstanding job. However, compared to our previous projects, I have noticed that we need fewer people to run a protocol because the system automates a lot of the work. That allows our team to be far more efficient. Before, if we needed to transfer 764 samples, it would take two to three hours. Now, it only takes about an hour and a half.
Are you using the data reporting features provided by TRACKMAN® Connected, and is this changing the way you manage your pipetting?
YZ: The data recording and reporting features help us review each step in our protocol to make sure there are no errors. If there are errors, we can determine exactly where they came from, thanks to the step-by-step reporting features within the PipettePilot® app. TRACKMAN® Connected keeps additional records so we can see the mistakes and avoid making them on future protocols.
What would you tell other researchers who are considering using the TRACKMAN® Connected system? Would it bring added value to their lab?
YZ: I would say that TRACKMAN® Connected will make them more efficient and will reduce the number and impact of their pipetting errors. Since the system automatically records data on pipetting activity, you can see exactly where mistakes happen and re-run the protocols to ensure the pipetting outcome is precisely what was intended. It is always of great value to any lab to reduce the time and money spent correcting errors.
Integrate Connected Tools Into Your Protocol
Interested in how you can use connected tools at the bench? Download our helpful infographic to learn more.