Reproducibility: Developing standard measures for biology

UK National Measurement Laboratory, LGC Group, Teddington, UK.

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The UK National Measurement Laboratory is working as part of a global effort to standardize measurements on biological materials. The aim is to ensure that disease diagnosis and management is based on reproducible research results (see also M. Sené et al. Nature 547, 397–399; 2017).

Aside from the enormity of the task for fields ranging from genetic sequencing to cell-based therapies, we must define and develop systems for measuring biological components that can be unstable, heterogeneous or present at ultra-low concentrations in complex environments.

Furthermore, conventional approaches to measurement may no longer be applicable. We therefore need to redefine which units are useful and how uncertainty should be determined for biological molecules. It is also crucial to keep pace with rapid technological advances.

Institutes such as ours are leading the consultation with the research, clinical and health-care communities to set standards for best laboratory practice and supporting materials, and to provide training in scientific methods and data analysis to ensure that research results are reproducible.

Nature 551, 168 (2017)

Competing Financial Interests

J.B. is employed as Director of Measurement Science and Partnerships at LGC, a life-sciences tools and solutions company.

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