Laboratory automation is a multi-disciplinary strategy to research, develop, optimize and capitalize on technologies in the laboratory that enable new and improved processes. Laboratory automation professionals are academic, commercial and government researchers, scientists and engineers who conduct research and develop new technologies to increase productivity, elevate experimental data quality, reduce lab process cycle times, or enable experimentation that otherwise would be impossible.
The most widely known application of laboratory automation technology is laboratory robotics. More generally, the field of laboratory automation comprises many different automated laboratory instruments, devices, software algorithms, and methodologies used to enable, expedite and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of scientific research in laboratories.
The application of technology in today's laboratories is required to achieve timely progress and remain competitive. Laboratories devoted to activities such as high-throughput screening, combinatorial chemistry, automated clinical and analytical testing, diagnostics, large scale biorepositories, and many others, would not exist without advancements in laboratory automation.
Some universities offer entire programs that focus on lab technologies. For example, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis offers a graduate program devoted to Laboratory Informatics. Also, the Keck Graduate Institute in California offers a graduate degree with an emphasis on development of assays, instrumentation and data analysis tools required for clinical diagnostics, high-throughput screening, genotyping, microarray technologies, proteomics, imaging and other applications.
In 1993, Dr. Rod Markin at the University of Nebraska Medical Center created one of the world's first clinical automated laboratory management systems. In the mid-1990s, he chaired a standards group called the Clinical Testing Automation Standards Steering Committee (CTASSC) of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, which later evolved into an area committee of the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute.
In 2004, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and more than 300 nationally recognized leaders in academia, industry, government, and the public completed the NIH Roadmap to accelerate medical discovery to improve health. The NIH Roadmap clearly identifies technology development as a mission critical factor in the Molecular Libraries and Imaging Implementation Group (see the first theme - New Pathways to Discovery - at http://nihroadmap.nih.gov).
- LIM Source, a laboratory information management systems resource
- Clinical Chemistry 46, No. 5, 2000, pgs. 246-250
- Health Management Technology magazine, October 1, 1995
- Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (formerly NCCLS)