Thursday, October 14, 2010

Manymoon and Gregg Lab

Learn how Gregg Lab, a research laboratory, solved a common problem of lab disorganization and project management needs with Manymoon, a project management tool.

The Gregg Lab is an academic research laboratory focused in the areas of neurobiology and genomics currently in the process of getting established at the University of Utah, under the leadership of Dr. Christopher Gregg. The research program is highly interdisciplinary and brings together expertise in mouse and human neurobiology and behavior, bioinformatics and software development, genomics, and mouse genetics. Currently, the lab is focused on understanding the basis of mental health disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, as well as metabolic syndrome related disorders, like obesity and diabetes.

Manymoon is a leading project collaboration application built specifically for customers who utilize secure online tools. Manymoon makes it simple to organize tasks, documents, events, and links with coworkers, customers, and partners. By seamlessly integrating with Google Apps, Manymoon helps organize and track projects so that anyone can efficiently collaborate and reduce email clutter. Manymoon is headquartered in San Francisco, California, and is proud to help thousands of businesses simplify their worklife.

Dr. Gregg had to manage the transition from being a postdoctoral fellow to a lead scientist managing a lab and research program, managing the projects and productivity of 8-10 people and a budget of over $1 million. He wanted to spend more of his time on research and less time thinking about lab management. Major equipment purchases and reagent purchases had to be monitored and managed. In addition, all of the custom code, wet lab protocols, reagent lists, price lists, primer and genetic construct designs, and many other resources had to be organized to provide a knowledge resource for the new lab. Goals and milestones needed to be worked out and clarified for new staff and trainees. Further, new data, ideas and discoveries need to be shared, tracked, and discussed. Funding opportunities must also be tracked and new grants and manuscripts must be shared and revised by collaborators. The complexity can be overwhelming and academic labs are often inefficient due to the workload and the constant race to publish first. The Gregg Lab needed a better and more streamlined workflow to gain an edge and to build a more creative and productive work environment.

After testing numerous online social networking solutions and project management approaches, the Gregg Lab has established a simple and highly effective workflow using Google Apps and Manymoon. The lab has established a Manymoon site in which all projects are set up and lab members join as Team members. Ordering and reagent needs for each project are managed with Google Docs spreadsheets, so anyone can easily place an order or find previously ordered supplies, and monthly expenses for projects can be easily tracked. Code is posted and archived easily. Recipes and protocols are also archived and modified on the site. Ideas, data and discussions are posted to the appropriate Projects in Manymoon. Further, everything is tagged so it can be easily searched and any lab member can quickly and easily find the information they need. Links to genomic and bioinformatics resources for each project are also posted. Google Calendars and the milestones and task assignment tabs create a simple workflow to keep individual projects on target and make it easier to manage multiple projects and multiple people. Finally, Manymoon makes it very easy to bring distant or local collaborators in on a project and to discuss data. Importantly, the price of Manymoon is low enough that it is a great solution even for an early stage academic lab. The Gregg Lab continues to find and develop ways to optimize this workflow to maximize creativity, innovation and synergy in the lab.

While the Gregg Lab just starting, it is already clear that Manymoon provides a highly effective framework to organize information and focus the multitude of tasks required to set up and run a lab. The feedback from students and postdocs has been extremely positive; that Manymoon is an easy and seamless way to collaborate. So easy in fact that the team have already all begun archiving information (programs, protocols, recipes, etc.) and organizing projects through Manymoon. Further, additional colleagues from other organizations have begun to link together through Manymoon creating a network of innovators that continues to grow. The Gregg Lab is currently in an early and exciting phase and believes that Manymoon will help them create a highly productive and uniquely creative work environment that will uncover new discoveries, therapies and industries--spending less time on admin and more time on research.

“Manymoon has been instrumental in the success of our lab. Our team is working more creatively and productively, helping us uncover new discoveries more rapidly, and we’re collaborating with other researchers in a way we never thought possible”. Dr. Christopher Gregg, Lead Scientist, The Gregg Lab