Inventory case studies

Case studies from customers using eCAT for inventory management

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Dr Alex Swarbrick, Group leader, Cancer research program, Garvan Institute of Research, Sydney, Australia

Posted by admin on August 10th, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

“One of the best features I like about eCAT is it’s ability to bring together disparate bits of information that occur in different places as well as different times and to have all that in one place that gets archived and backed up centrally.”

About the Swarbrick lab

The Swarbrick lab investigates the protein coding genes and microRNAs controlling the self renewal, differentiation and metastasis of cancer cells. Alex aims to expand the basic understanding of cancer progression to allow the development of better therapeutic strategies for hard-to-treat cancers. His lab uses a range of model systems, including 2D and 3D cell culture, animal models and human tissues. They also collaborate closely with  colleagues in the Cancer Research Program who bring expertise in signal transduction, anatomical pathology, tissue banking and developmental biology.


“Many of our projects are collaborative projects between several people, some of them all in the same lab, some in other parts of the building or the Institutute.  So, finding a way to combine data, combine experimental ideas, and put that all in one place has always been a real challenge.

Another major challenge has been sharing of reagents. We have a large database of cell lines, mouse tissues, and other biological resources as well as protocols that it’s always been very hard to manage using paper-based records.


We use eCAT as an experimental labbook for all the people in the lab.  They enter all the key information, everything from background through to methods, protocols and results and discussion into eCAT.

The other fantastic feature of eCAT that we use a lot is this ability to include metadata and links within records, so when it comes to managing biological samples this is really important.  So when we have transgenic mice we can track the mouse, the tissues that were made from the mouse, the extracts from the tissues, then the analyses on those extracts and keep them all linked through eCAT.


The way that eCAT helps us is manyfold.  With eCAT we can link to established protocols — instead of having to write out detailed protocols every time someone does an experiment they can link to established protocols as well as putting in some relevant modifications.  By putting in primary data it brings all these disparate data types together so electronic data as well as text and so on into one place and we don’t have to go digging through a server trying to find the relevant Excel file or image or Affymetrix transgenic profiling data set.  That can all live in one place and it’s very easy to find.

When we are managing biological samples we can easily track data — for example in the case of transgenic mice the mouse, the tissues that were made from the mouse, the extracts from the tissues, then the analyses on those extracts — through an experiment whereas doing it with a paper-based approach would be extremely difficult.

The great thing is that people who are working on the project, including myself, can access that and be up to date with what”s happening, make annotations, make changes and suggestions, so it really makes it a much better collaborative situation.”

Michael Shtutman, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, South Carolina College of Pharmacy University of South Carolina

Posted by Rory on June 30th, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

“The most interesting feature of eCAT is its flexibility.”

About the Shtutman lab

“My lab is doing functional genomics projects.   Our work involves many parallel projects with high throughput sequencing, analysis of results as well as wet biology assays.  In parallel, as the director of the functional genomics facility, we provide services for other labs.


We run many different projects involving different people, so it was difficult to combine all the results together, and to trace the materials that appear as a result of the research projects.


We have project related-databases as well as materials-related databases.  eCAT allows us to enter all the project information and the materials information and location.


With eCAT we were able to organize all our projects and materials, and create an integrated and searchable database of our work.

The most interesting feature of eCAT is its flexibility.  It allows us to add our own classes, and to add information in the manner most convenient for us.  The other features, including powerful search and the ability to add graphic data, are also advantageous.”