Three Scientists Peer Reviewed Us. The Results Are In.
As a scientist, it is in your nature to question everything, including your suppliers. You want the best products for your research, but you may be wary of the information that vendors provide. Marketing claims are often dismissed as “fluff" or hyperbole, and have diminished the trust between researchers and industry. This has detracted from the task at hand: science.
At STEMCELL Technologies, we know you likely question how well our claims hold up to scrutiny. So we did what a scientist would do: we put ourselves up for peer review.
I expect STEMCELL to show me everything, warts and all. The good, the bad and the ugly. I want to know everything that's going on and I expect to be able to come in and examine STEMCELL and ask those questions about, 'How are these reagents consistent? What is the quality?
Dr. Amy Stone, University of Washington (documentary)
Out of over 300 applicants, three postdoctoral fellows were selected to represent the scientific community: Dr. Amy Stone (University of Washington), Dr. Craig Ayre (Atlantic Cancer Research Institute), and Dr. Fiona Frame (University of York) . They visited our facilities, met our people and observed our processes. They didn't hold back and they asked us some tough questions. Follow their experience in this short documentary film.
How was the peer review conducted? Who are the peer reviewers? What did they find? Read the detailed report or listen to the podcast to learn more.
A Podcast with the Peer Reviewers
Listen as Drs. Ayre, Frame and Stone introduce themselves and discuss their research. Hear them unpack their observations from the peer review and give three key recommendations.
A Detailed Report About the Peer Review
Take a closer look at how the peer review was performed. See what the reviewers had to say about our role in addressing scientific issues such as reproducibility, accessibility and quality.
The Verdict: Accept with Minor Revisions
It feels like a good model that could be used for other companies.
Dr. Fiona Frame, University of York (podcast interview)
As Dr. Ayre noted in the podcast, it was unprecedented to let the peer reviewers into every department from top to bottom, to question our motives and values, to snoop through our processes and to get a glimpse of our goals and our challenges. But in the end, the peer reviewers were impressed. Dr. Stone was struck by the “really high rigor of quality control and quality checks" in place to reduce variability and generate consistently reliable reagents, while Dr. Frame commented that STEMCELL “produces good quality products and they could just stop at that. But I think [given] their philosophy and their culture, they do want to reach out to scientists… to move the field forward."
Three Key Recommendations to Shape Our Future
I’m impressed. Do I think that’s indicative of perfection? No.
Dr. Craig Ayre, Atlantic Cancer Research Institute (podcast interview)
The peer reviewers liked what they saw during their visit. Going forward, they want to see us maintain what we do well, including ensuring the quality and consistency of our products. They also suggested improvements in the following three areas:
Fostering Vendor-Researcher Relationships
The reviewers suggested that we need to do more to foster closer relationships and build trust with the research community. We agree and are increasing our efforts to bridge that gap. See what we’re doing to form peer-to-peer relationships that take knowledge sharing to the next level.
Pushing the Conversation in Science
The scientific landscape is constantly changing, making it challenging for researchers to keep up. The reviewers asked us to be more proactive about pushing the conversations on research challenges. See how we’re answering their call by using our voice to facilitate discussion and raise the standard of discourse about the way science is done.
Maintaining Our Culture Amidst Growth
The reviewers were concerned that the increasing size and complexity of STEMCELL could trample the heart of our organization—our culture—if not managed carefully. We heard them. Learn about our efforts to ensure we remain Scientists Helping Scientists as we continue to grow.
Let us know what you think! Are there questions that the peer review did not address? What should we do differently next time?
About the Peer Reviewers
Over 300 scientists from around the world applied to peer review us. Drs. Amy Stone, Craig Ayre, and Fiona Frame emerged through the selection process as three scientists who expressed their interest in making their peer review experience valuable to the scientific community.
Dr. Stone has studied infectious diseases for her graduate and postdoctoral training, focusing on the innate host defenses to RNA viruses. She currently uses systems biology to learn more about how humans defend against these viruses, hoping to harness those defenses for novel therapeutics. Dr. Stone also has a passion for teaching and outreach, leading the Education Core at her Center in the University of Washington's School of Medicine. We spoke to Dr. Stone and learned that she wanted to be part of this peer-review committee to contribute in a meaningful way to resolve the reproducibility crisis currently plaguing bioscience.
Dr. Ayre completed his doctoral work on B cell extracellular vesicles, and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute in Moncton, New Brunswick. He works as a team member investigating the use of extracellular vesicles for their diagnostic and therapeutic potential in different cancers. During our conversation, Dr. Ayre shared that he is interested in bridging the gap between the perceptions surrounding academic vs. industry-led science through this peer review experience.
Dr. Frame's research uses primary prostate epithelial cells derived from patient prostate cancer tissue. She uses these cells as a clinically relevant model of current disease to study therapy resistance. She is passionate about the need for collaborative working between clinicians, patients and scientists in order to progress cancer research. During our conversation with Dr. Frame, she shared that grants used to fund prostate cancer research are frequently based on donations from people touched by the disease. When reagents don't work, they affect more than just the experiments and a simple product replacement is not enough. Dr. Frame expressed that she wanted to learn about the support STEMCELL is able to provide to the scientific community.
Scientists Helping Scientists™
At STEMCELL, science is our foundation. It is our purpose, our vision and our culture. With the majority of our employees holding science degrees, we are scientists. This is why we celebrate scientific discovery, and why we support science communication and training. Above all, it is why we are committed to data and transparency. No hype, no buzzwords. Just science. Just curiosity, knowledge, truth and integrity.
Just Scientists Helping Scientists.