Survey Conducted within the Academic Research Community Ignites Debate Around Data Reproducibility and Quality Standards in Translational Research

Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, in Collaboration with The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Produces First-Ever "State of Translational Research Survey Report"

Sep 18, 2013, 07:00 ET from Sigma-Aldrich Corporation

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Sigma-Aldrich Corporation (NASDAQ: SIAL) today released a report on the state of academic translational research, a rapidly expanding field in which academic scientists aim to "translate" their laboratory discoveries to patient benefit. The first-of-its-kind survey was conducted by Sigma-Aldrich and the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and was completed by more than 600 academic scientists who identified their research as translational. 

An important finding was the differing perspectives among the scientists about whether academic translational research should be held to a higher standard of practice and which best practices should be adopted to assure that experiments are reproducible. Reproducibility of experiments is particularly critical to the success of translational researchers, whose goal is to deliver products for patient use. This is a key criterion of funding sources that provide subsequent milestone investments.

"Sigma-Aldrich has shown its commitment to the translational research community by supporting opportunities and innovations generated by research institutions, and delivering scientific expertise all along the drug discovery chain, from target identification to enabling clinical trials," said Amanda Halford, Vice President of Academic Research at Sigma-Aldrich. "We also believe in the importance of alliances that permit biologists and chemists in academia and non-profits to work closely with private industry and government agencies to bring the most promising research out of the so-called 'valley of death.'"

"Sigma-Aldrich conducted this survey," Halford added, "to help understand how we can maximize the potential of translational research. That means finding out what works, identifying what does not, and stimulating debate about possible solutions."

Reproducibility has become an important issue in part because of recent adverse commentary in industry reviews. A team at Bayer HealthCare in Germany found that only 25% of published pre-clinical studies it analyzed could be validated so that projects could continue1. A team at Amgen later found that the findings of only 11% of "landmark" hematology and oncology-related studies were confirmed in its laboratories2. Earlier this year, Nature released a reproducibility checklist that must accompany manuscript submissions, but Sigma-Aldrich's Translational Research Team believes lab practices beyond the contents of this checklist may also need to be addressed.

Survey respondents are in agreement that some type of action is required to ensure reproducibility above and beyond what is currently being done. For example, 55% said they would be willing to use standardized or validated reagents to ensure that their research is perceived as reproducible. Additionally, The Sigma-Aldrich Survey Report indicates that 97% of the respondents are willing to take some kind of action, making it clear that the translational research community is interested in addressing reproducibility.

The Survey also covers a breadth of topics in translational research such as barriers to progress, the current funding situation, collaborations with business schools, networking with peers and networking with industry.

THE STATE OF TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH – 2013 Survey Report is available for download at A formal release of the survey findings and a follow-up discussion is planned for the Academic Drug Discovery Consortium conference on October 9-11, 2013 in Nashville, TN.

1 F. Prinz, T. Schlange, K. Asadullah, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. 10, 712 (2011)

2 C.G. Begley, L.M. Ellis, Nature 483, 531 (2012).

About Sigma-Aldrich:  Sigma-Aldrich, a leading Life Science and High Technology company focused on enhancing human health and safety, manufactures and distributes more than 200,000 chemicals, biochemicals and other essential products to more than 1.4 million customers globally in research and applied labs as well as in industrial and commercial markets. With three distinct business units – Research, Applied and SAFC Commercial – Sigma-Aldrich is committed to enabling science to improve the quality of life. The Company operates in 38 countries, has more than 9,000 employees worldwide and had sales of $2.6 billion in 2012. For more information about Sigma-Aldrich, please visit its website at

Sigma-Aldrich is a registered trademark of Sigma-Aldrich Co. LLC.

SOURCE Sigma-Aldrich Corporation