The VirtuLIMS Project - A collaborative internship program of Poitiers University, The Laboratory Informatics Institute and LabLynx, Inc.
by: John H. Jones - President, Laboratory Informatics Institute
PoitiersUniversity in France had contacted LabLynx, Inc. enquiring about a partnership of some kind where they could have a LIMS to use for teaching purposes. LabLynx, having its webLIMS hosted Software as a Service product readily deployable online, provided its ELab LIMS to Poitiers free of charge, along with help and support in working with it. This gave students the unique opportunity to learn about laboratory informatics first hand. After a successful semester, Claude Goldszmidt at Poitiers requested an internship in Atlanta for one of their students, Aymeric Sarrazin.
The goals of the internship were to provide real world experience and build knowledge of both laboratory informatics management solutions and the LIMS business environment and operations.
LabLynx president John Jones decided that the Laboratory Informatics Institute, which he had founded a couple of years before, was the appropriate organization to sponsor the internship. The LIMS Institute is a non-profit advocacy and trade organization for the laboratory informatics industry.
The internship was aimed at helping Aymeric to learn about LIMS through exposure to actual systems, training materials and further hands-on operation. The culmination of that experience would be for him to build his own LIMS from scratch. Given the latest trends and demands of the market, it was deemed best that it be a cloud-based, SaaS or Software-as-a-Service LIMS that anyone could access through the Internet for free. It would offer good basic functionality useful to most labs, based on user requirements gleaned from the LIMS Institute’s LIMSpec, a collection of tools, resources and information used to help labs in the LIMS selection, implementation and validation and maintenance processes.
Aymeric’s previous year’s internship at a laboratory, plus the course at Poitiers provided the springboard for the project. LabLynx and the LIMS Institute provided for his accommodation and living expenses, gave him training and guidance, office space and access to the Internet and all other necessary resources, and monitored his progress.
Watch the following short presentation to learn more about this unique project and its results
In keeping with the LIMS Institute’s belief in open access, the primary tool selected for building the LIMS was Zoho Creator, a SaaS database form building application which is part of Zoho’s many varied productivity tools. It allowed Aymeric to write to a database, and create online pages or forms with controls like picklists, lookups and fields configured to requirements. It also allows for reports, which at the end of the day are the chief product of any lab. A Jotform account and Gmail email account were set up so that anyone interested in using the LIMS or contributing development could contact Aymeric. Aymeric’s income source would be any configuration or additional development work requested by labs, in keeping with the open source business model.
The Resultof the project was VirtuLIMS, from a combination of the words virtual and virtue, which speak to its SaaS design and altruistic aims. Aymeric produced a free, web-based LIMS that helps small labs manage samples, containers, analysis, results and reports.
VirtuLIMS allows users to receive samples, give them automatically generated unique IDs and keep track of which user received them. They can be batched, assigned containers and results entered for each analysis. The setup process is quite simple, beginning with entering parameters, or analytes for which the lab performs tests. Entry of these generates a list, viewable on the Parameters View page. Any number of parameters may be grouped into a test, which you can name any way you like.
The system allows you to define sample types, which may typically require the same analysis when received. VirtuLIMS also supports batching of samples according to type of analysis or process. The samples tab lets you receive samples, assign containers and tests and enter results, changing status as you go and noting any exceeded limits for parameters.
VirtuLIMS supports both alphanumeric and non-numeric result entries. Once complete, results can be displayed, filtered and sorted any number of ways, and exported to Excel for trending and charting for instance, or as another type of document report.
The final result of this collaborative project was measurable progress for Aymeric. His English language skills improved by living in the United States, he gained authentic real world experience, for which there is no substitute…and he added greatly to his knowledge of LIMS, to the extent that he was able to actually build one that is usable for small labs. This serves as a tangible return on the project on a few levels. It serves him well as a resume builder and basis for a business income, while also providing a useful free application for the laboratory industry.
If you are interested in learning more about this project, or using VirtuLIMS for your lab or college, or contributing to its further development…then go to http://www.jotform.com/form/2354729238