Molecular biologist David Nix, director of BioRoot Bioinformatics, says he is appalled by inadequate inventory tracking in academic and government biotech labs. "It's just outrageous. Saving one plasmid from being misplaced or thrown away saves roughly $500. Worm, fly, or yeast strains cost more – antibodies cost thousands of dollars," he laments.

Nix's frustration after 13 years as a bench-level scientist led him to build the BioRoot BioReagent Laboratory Information Management System, a central, Web-based LIMS hosted by a state-of-the-art data center, and available to researchers from multiple locations. The database currently includes more than 50 data fields – placeholders for such information as location, name, sequence, and concentration – for reagents, oligonucleotides, plasmids, strains, and antibodies.

According to Nix, the database "was built to accommodate thousands of labs." Security concerns are addressed with a multiple-level view system and one-time passwords ("challenge cards") distributed to each registered user....

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