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Survey Conducted Within The Academic Research Community Ignites Debate Around Data Reproducibility And Quality Standards In Translational Research

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --  Sigma-Aldrich Corporation (NASDAQ: SIAL) today released a report on the state of academic translational research, a rapidly expanding field in which academic scientists aim to "translate" their laboratory discoveries to patient benefit. The first-of-its-kind survey was conducted by Sigma-Aldrich and the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and was completed by more than 600 academic scientists who identified their research as translational. 

An important finding was the differing perspectives among the scientists about whether academic translational research should be held to a higher standard of practice and which best practices should be adopted to assure that experiments are reproducible. Reproducibility of experiments is particularly critical to the success of translational researchers, whose goal is to deliver products for patient use. This is a key criterion of funding sources that provide subsequent milestone investments.

"Sigma-Aldrich has shown its commitment to the translational research community by supporting opportunities and innovations generated by research institutions, and delivering scientific expertise all along the drug discovery chain, from target identification to enabling clinical trials," said Amanda Halford, Vice President of Academic Research at Sigma-Aldrich. "We also believe in the importance of alliances that permit biologists and chemists in academia and non-profits to work closely with private industry and government agencies to bring the most promising research out of the so-called 'valley of death.'"

"Sigma-Aldrich conducted this survey," Halford added, "to help understand how we can maximize the potential of translational research. That means finding out what works, identifying what does not, and stimulating debate about possible solutions."

Reproducibility has become an important issue in part because of recent adverse commentary in industry reviews. A team at Bayer HealthCare in Germany found that only 25% of published pre-clinical studies it analyzed could be validated so that projects could continue 1. A team at Amgen later found that the findings of only 11% of "landmark" hematology and oncology-related studies were confirmed in its laboratories 2. Earlier this year, Nature released a reproducibility checklist that must accompany manuscript submissions, but Sigma-Aldrich's Translational Research Team believes lab practices beyond the contents of this checklist may also need to be addressed.

Survey respondents are in agreement that some type of action is required to ensure reproducibility above and beyond what is currently being done. For example, 55% said they would be willing to use standardized or validated reagents to ensure that their research is perceived as reproducible. Additionally, The Sigma-Aldrich Survey Report indicates that 97% of the respondents are willing to take some kind of action, making it clear that the translational research community is interested in addressing reproducibility.

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