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LifeSight - Keeping Researchers at the Forefront of Technological Breakthroughs

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Leica Microsystems launched the inaugural LifeSight Report into current and future trends in life science research at The MicroScience Microscopy Congress 2014

The report is the first in a series of annual surveys focused on the life science research sector, providing readers a comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities and explores topics such as technological development, funding and current collaborations. 

To learn more about the report and its findings we spoke to Joanne Fallowfield, Marketing Manager, Life Science Research at Leica Microsystems. 

AB: What is the focus of the LifeSight report?

Joanne Fallowfield (JF): The LifeSight Report is the result of an extensive survey that asked life science researchers key questions about how they see current and future trends in their discipline. We received nearly 1300 responses; this showed us that this was something we could build into much more than just a report.

The focus was very much on giving researchers a platform to express their opinions on topics ranging from collaboration to funding and publishing through to technological trends, allowing them to see how their responses compared with those of their peers.

AB: What were the key drivers for creating this report?

JF: At Leica Microsystems, we live by the words ‘’With the User, For the User’’- this means staying close to our customers and listening carefully to what they tell us. The key driver for creating the report was to learn more about the challenges scientists face and how they see these evolving in the  future. 

We also wanted to establish an ongoing project that would give a year-on-year updated view.  Our vision is that LifeSight becomes an established watchword for learning more about how the research community feels about these key issues.  We also want  to encourage feedback on LifeSight, by incorporating questions in future versions of the survey that scientists feel warrant debate.

AB: What were some of the major challenges highlighted in the report?

JF: Clearly, the major challenge facing researchers is how to continue to secure funding and hence achieve the published results they need to further their research.  This is perhaps unsurprising as it is the lynch pin of scientific progress. 

Respondents also told us about the challenge surrounding the huge amounts of data they generate – both storage and analysis – and how future progress is dependent on scientists from different disciplines coming together to solve the problems faced. 

AB: How is Leica Microsystems enabling researchers to overcome these challenges?

JF: An interesting point raised in the report was the collbaboration between researchers and commercial partners, such as Leica Microsystems, and its role in securing funding.  We are fully involved in innovative collaborations with scientists worldwide, and this report underlines the importance of building on that. An example here would be our established position in super-resolution microscopy; this year we celebrate 10 years of innovation in this particular area. Our success here comes from joining forces with innovation leaders to develop technologies and products that can ultimately benefit all researchers.

We also discovered a lot about how customers like to learn about new techniques and innovations; there is clear direction there for us to follow to ensure we communicate with researchers in the right way and at the right time.

AB: Finally were you surprised by any of the findings?

JF: I was most surprised to learn that research science is lagging behind in its utilisation of wireless and mobile technologies. With the increased trend towards international collaboration, I would not have expected this. But it seems that 82% of those polled feel that life science research does not take enough advantage of these technologies.

Scientists also told us that they want to see more details – whilst this is not surprising in itself, I was taken aback by quite how many respondents said that higher resolution imagery is an absolute must and will become the norm for publications in the future. I guess we are visual beings, and we need to see the evidence of our results. 

Copies of the LifeSight Report 2014 are available here

Further details on Leica Microsystems and their range of products can be found on the Leica website

Joanne Fallowfield was speaking to Ashley Board, Managing Editor for Technology Networks. You can find Ashley on  and follow Technology Networks on Twitter.