MouseHouse: Using Modern Technology to Improve Lab Efficiency

August 30, 2013

9:04 am

Science is about discovery and innovation. That’s why it’s surprising to learn from Umar Khokhar, an MD/PhD candidate at the University of Chicago, that most life science labs still depend on archaic tools like paper and Excel to keep track of their data. For Khokhar, this disconnect between ethos and practice was bothersome enough for him to produce MouseHouse.

MouseHouse is an iPad and Web app that allows researchers in the life sciences to make their labs more efficient, primarily by providing them with a visual way to manage their mice colonies. The app allows them to track experimental data associated with each mouse, mice health, and the complex breeding schemes to which the mice are exposed.

Khokhar created MouseHouse to introduce current technology to make processes more efficient in the lab.

“The current method isn’t working. Mice have become genetically more complicated to work, so [MouseHouse] is a modern response to those needs,” says Khokhar.

The app aims to make the work inside labs more efficient by reducing the amount of time it takes for researchers to enter and sift through data related to the the mice. The app features an intuitive interface, with easy drag-and-drop functions and visual representations of data – a huge departure from the traditional Excel-style data entry and presentation format. Due to this adoption of modern technology, researchers save time by not having to sort through multiple Excel sheets to copy and paste data into other workbooks.

More importantly, though, MouseHouse allows scientists to keep track of the data associated with each mouse in their colony, potentially reducing a lab’s colony size by 15 percent. “Every single drug discovered and every advance in modern medicine depends on laboratory mice,” says Henry Kimball, lab outreach director for MouseHouse. Researchers constantly work with mice in their labs, necessarily going through several mice in any given week.

It’s difficult to keep track of what trials every mouse has undergone, and even more difficult to keep track of which mouse should be used with considerations to a mouse’s age and genetic makeup. The app further increases lab efficiency by keeping track of ALL this data, ultimately preventing any superfluous testing on mice. Additionally, because of its precise data tracking and easy interface, MouseHouse allows for more efficient collaboration between labs, making it easier to share mice with other researchers who need them.

Currently, MouseHouse’s beta product is being used at labs in 12 institutions. They recently presented at this week’s Tech Cocktail Boston Mixer & Startup Showcase.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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