Who Uses eCAT

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Professor Mike Shipston, Director of The University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Integrative Physiology

Posted by Rory on June 30th, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

“It was a major surprise; transferring to an electronic lab notebook is actually very easy.”

About the Shipston lab

“We’re interested in ion channel physiology.  We look at post transcriptional and post translational mechanisms of ion channel regulation. That goes from the regulation of alternative splicing to regulation of simple ion channel proteins through to the behavior of ion channel intact organisms such as transgenic mice.  So our work spans the remit of molecular biology, protein biochemistry, high resolution cell imaging, electro physiology, right up to behaviorial studies in animals.


We generate a wide variety of types of data sets, for example data from molecular analysis, quantitative analysis, for example quantitative RTPCR, gene cloning, through to electrophysiological analysis, for example from confocal images and total internal reflective microscopy right up to to behaviorial assays in animals.  So it’s really about coordinating those types of data sets that fit together, keeping them contained within projects, because the data sets are derived from different people within the lab.  Also we have a very big extended network both in the UK and across Europe and the US.  Its about keeping that information together.

We have a large number of people coming in and out of the lab, the challenge is keeping track of that data and integrating it in with data from existing projects.


We use eCAT as a cataloging and information retrieval system.  We can keep catalogs of resources  and protocols up to date and exchange that very effectively between lab members.

We also use eCAT as an eELN.  The great thing about eCAT is its incredibly flexible in terms of how you can set it up.  For example each member of the lab has their own folders and put their own experiments within that, but its every easy to put that information together.


It was a major surprise; transferring to an electronic lab notebook is actually very easy.

The other thing is because eCAT is web-based you can access it from anywhere

Having everything tied together under one resource, so results, protocols, constructs, where things are physically, having everything together under one system has just been perfect.”

Matthew Nicotra, Research Instructer, Starzl Transplant Center, University of PIttsburgh Medical Center

Posted by Rory on June 30th, 2010 @ 1:00 pm


About Matt and his work

“We do transplant immunology using mouse models and comparative immunology using an inverabrate model for hista compatability and animals related to jelly fish and sea anenomes.


Before using eCAT I would keep my data for experiments in various places.  I had my paper notebook at the bench with written notes and gel images and other pieces of data — printouts taped in various places.  And then on my computer I’d have folders for every experiment with Excel spreadsheet and data files and digital images and other data.”  It was really a challenge to go back a month later or so and try to remember how all those pieces of data related to each other.  So I’d open a folder and try to figure out which Excel spreadsheet had the data I wanted, where exactly did that image come from and when did I take it.


Using eCAT has helped with keeping all that stuff organized because I can have one page with all my notes on an experiment.  Imported into that are  my digital images.  I can link to Excel spreadsheets, I can link to other experiments, I can link to data files, and it’s all right there.  I don’t have to speand any time figuring out where anything is. “I use eCAT five to six times a day if not more to upload data images and keep track of my experiments, write notes,and  plan experiments for the future.


The thing I like best about eCAT is its very simple to use.  I looked at some other electronic lab notebooks and they were complicated or overly designed.  eCAT has a very simple interface.  Its very flexible so I can just go in and immediately start writing my lab notebook the way I used to with a paper lab notebook.

If I want to I can make templates for different types of experiments, like PCR experiments, flow cytometry data, those sorts of things.

It’s simple, I don’t have to spend any time figuring it out.  And I can get to it from anywhere.  So if I’m home or in the lab or somewhere else I can get to my data at anytime.

Perhaps the most important thing is it’s on the web.  I don’t have to spend any time doing IT support.  They update it when they come out withnew updates to the software.  And its backed up, so I don’t have to worry about data disappearing or, heaven forbid, there is a fire in our lab.”