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Building Confidence in Biological Measurements

“In the U.S. alone, biomedical research is a $100-billion-year enterprise. So when published medical findings can't be validated by others, there are major consequences.” - The Wall Street Journal

Investments in scientific research have led to many of the products and services we rely on daily, from healthcare to consumer products. Because of the importance of these investments to the nation’s economy, recent reports on the irreproducibility of biomedical research results are being widely discussed. 

While there are a number of factors that contribute to irreproducible research, NIST recognizes that measurements of biological systems are not as straightforward as measurements of physical and chemical systems. Biological systems are often complex and poorly defined, and biological responses can be the aggregate result of an array of molecular events. These measurements are even more challenging because many biological responses are not discrete, but probabilistic in nature. 

Confidence in measurement is essential to sound decision-making in both the clinic and the factory. To help achieve this goal, our division is focused on developing methods that will assure reliability and confidence in the measurements that underpin research and applications in genomic measurements and DNA control sequences, biomaterials, protein therapeutics and cell therapies, cancer diagnostics, nanoparticle safety, and microbial identification and quantification. We carry out this work through fundamental research in measurement science and the development of reference materials, reference data, and protocols.

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Biosystems and Biomaterials Division