Supporting Influenza Surveillance at Ohio State

How Sample Manager provides effective sample tracking for this vital veterinary research laboratory.

Contents: Background | Introduction | Challenges | Journey | Why LabKey | Results | Conclusion



The Animal Influenza Ecology and Epidemiology Research Program (AIEERP) at The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has a long-standing commitment to influenza surveillance in animals. The program aims to detect influenza viruses that might pose a threat to public health. As part of their research operations, the lab manages a substantial volume of veterinary samples including a historical repository dating back to 1986.



Having decided to adopt a new software solution for managing their sample inventory, AIEERP (part of Ohio State’s Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine) began searching for a robust solution that was flexible enough to manage samples for multiple species, sample, and assay types, and robust enough to handle more than 15,000 tests annually.



The lab program faced various sample management challenges, including:

Volume of Samples: The program generates more than 10,000 samples and 15,000 tests annually.

Legacy Repository: In addition to the annual volume of samples, the lab is responsible for managing a large repository dating back to 1986 containing animal-origin influenza viruses. 

Homegrown Databases: Reliance on homegrown FileMaker databases for individual research projects resulted in data fragmentation. The system required an increasing amount of IT support to keep up with lab requirements. 

High Turnover: The frequent influx of new lab staff, including students, requires a user-friendly data management system requiring minimal training and support. 


The Journey:

There were several stages in the department’s journey to Sample Manager:

Deciding on the Need for a Solution: The existing solution strained college IT support as veterinary medical system IT needs grew along with requirements from the lab. 

Choosing LabKey: Sample Manager’s flexibility matched their department’s needs and could handle a variety of sample sources and types. Additionally, it mirrored the program’s sample-centered approach to sample tracking and could efficiently manage data from various sample-related assays.

Implementation and Adoption: Sample Manager’s user-friendliness meant that onboarding new lab users and students would be easy and efficient. They eventually phased out the old system to transition everyone to Sample Manager.


Why LabKey:

The decision to adopt Sample Manager was motivated by several key factors:

Research Focus: Sample Manager’s research-centered data management approach aligned with the program’s mission.

Sample Focus: The sample-centered user experience of Sample Manager fits well with the program’s daily workflow.

Customization: The application’s flexibility allowed for custom workflows and fields to accommodate different sampling structures and data reporting requirements.

User-Friendly Interface: The application’s ease of use was essential to facilitate the integration of new lab staff.

Assay Management: The program can efficiently manage various assays, even adapting to new ones as the demands of the lab change.

Exceptional Customer Service: LabKey’s frequent and responsive customer support was a significant selling point, ensuring a smooth transition.



Ohio State’s AIEERP successfully migrated to Sample Manager and have seen these improvements:

Data Management: Sample Manager successfully addressed challenges related to the volume of samples and the management of their legacy repository. This includes management of over 10,000 samples and 15,000 tests annually, streamlined data management and reduced data fragmentation caused by reliance on homegrown databases.

User-Friendliness: Sample Manager’s user-friendly interface facilitated the onboarding of new lab staff and students with minimal training and support. This improvement was especially important given the high turnover of personnel within the lab.

Customization: The flexibility of Sample Manager allowed the program to customize workflows and fields to accommodate a variety of data structures and reporting requirements. This adaptability was crucial in managing the department’s diverse set of samples and their associated data. 

Assay Data Management: Sample Manager enabled the program to efficiently manage results from various assays and adapt to new ones as the demands on the lab changed. This adaptability ensured that the program could keep up with evolving research needs.

Customer Service: The consistent and prompt customer support provided by LabKey played a pivotal role in the successful implementation of Sample Manager. 



By implementing Sample Manager, AIEERP has significantly improved their data management and research processes. Addressing challenges, embracing customization, and utilizing the exceptional service provided by LabKey all helped the program become better equipped to continue its vital work in influenza surveillance.

In a world where early detection of potential health threats is crucial, Sample Manager empowers research initiatives like this, showcasing how technology can enhance data management and safeguard animal and public health.

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