Recently, the NIH and various journals issued guidelines intended to increase rigor in biomedical science. The removal of bias through blinding was identified as a central means for improving rigor. The effects of unintentional bias can be easy to overlook, and blinding procedures are often time-consuming and tedious. Due to this perceived lack of need and high effort requirement, blinding is only applied when absolutely necessary in preclinical biomedical research. The guidelines released by the NIH and various journals should correct the misperception that blinding isn?t needed, but a lack of efficiency continues to prevent wide adoption of blinding techniques. It is simply impractical to task lab personnel with hours of relabeling samples or files and maintaining logs. Though some researchers possess the prerequisite programming skills, creating custom code to rename batches of files is time-consuming, has narrow applicability, and is not user friendly?typically requiring that the user also have programming experience to execute the code. There are currently no tools available to aid researchers in performing blinded experimentation and analysis. SciBlinder will be the first platform designed to facilitate blinding. We will remove the burden from the researcher, enabling them to comply with new guidelines and improve scientific rigor throughout the biomedical community. We recognize that for various reasons blinding is not compatible with every experimental technique or stage, and we seek to reduce the burden on the researcher, not add to it. Therefore, SciBlinder will provide the flexibility to blind at different sample stages and assign different permissions to lab personnel. We will focus on delivering a functional, robust product with complete data fidelity. The final product will also provide an effortlessly accessible, user-friendly experience. We believe that a product built on principles of flexibility, functionality, and accessibility will achieve maximal adoption of blinded techniques throughout the research community. We propose to develop and test a prototype of the code and a basic graphical user interface for this software during phase one development. We present straightforward, achievable aims and milestones along with highly motivated, experienced key personnel ready to execute this project and prepare for transition to exciting advances in phase two.

Public Health Relevance

The NIH has issued guidelines that, among other things, call for utilization of blinding to reduce bias and increase scientific rigor, but blinding remains rare in preclinical biomedical research due to inefficiencies inherent to the techniques. We will provide the first platform facilitating blinded data acquisition and analysis. This flexible, functional, and accessible software will make blinding (and unblinding) effortless, thereby increasing adoption of unbiased, rigorous techniques throughout the biomedical research community.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Ravichandran, Veerasamy
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Sciblinder, LLC
Bryn Mawr
United States
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