The Covid-19 pandemic hit all industries completely unexpectedly. From one day to the next, our daily work routine also changed completely. The biggest change was probably working from home, away from the lab, which was completely unfamiliar to us. Instead, we tried to focus on the positive things we could draw from the pandemic and find new approaches. In this article we would like to share our learnings.
Know the value of your data
Since we were not able to generate new data during the homeoffice periods, we tried to concentrate on the value of the existing data. We were able to reveal loads of new knowledge from the data we already had. To do so, we needed to push digitalization of bioprocessing: Contextualization of data sources, automated data analysis and possibility to share data among the team members and our industrial partners.
It’s all about strategy
Overall, we used the time, which we could not spend at the lab to develop more strategic approaches and asked ourselves questions like: How can we combine the knowledge of the individual projects to a unique research approach within our research area? This resulted in conceiving the following new funding applications and collaborations:
- Application for a FWF Forschungsgruppe on digital twins predicting product quality of monoclonal antibodies, as successor of our Christian Doppler Laboratories. Keeping in mind that there are still much more people dying every year on cancer than on Covid-19: Research must go on!
- Application for a bilateral basic science approach (with TUHH Germany, Prof Ralf Pörtner) to innovate personalized medicine (advanced therapy medicinal products = ATMPs) for cell and gene therapy. We will technologize this field, which is currently more a hospital technology with lots of manual handling, by transferring our methods to this complex field.
- A fruitful collaboration with the group of Prof Cornelia Kasper at Boku Vienna, jointly analyzing cultivation parameters of NK (natural killer) cells. We are very thankful for that!
- A project with the SCCH, Novartis and Takeda by the FFG on transfer learning was successfully granted! This project extends our work on digital twins, as we follow the strategy how digital twins can be transferred to a new application
We learned from the pandemic, that it is good to sit back and think. Think about what you can make out of what you have. In our case, that is the conversion of data to information and knowledge that we can use to approach wisdom. We also had the opportunity to think about where we want to go and what we want to achieve in the future. Our focus is now on using digital transformation and digital twins to innovate biopharmaceutical development and enabling new modalities, such as ATMPs.