Lab automation or robotic scientists: Dr McClymont and Professor Freemont share their views in Nature Biotechnology

  • Posted on 12 April

Dr David McClymont, head of automation at the London DNA Foundry, and Professor Paul Freemont, Co-director of the London DNA Foundry and the EPSRC Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation at Imperial College London, have co-authored an article appearing in April in Nature Biotechnology. The article, entitled ‘With all due respect to Maholo, Lab Automation isn’t anthropomorphic’, will discuss the virtues of building on existing automation technologies in lab research over humanoid robotic lab infrastructure. That is to say, automating the process rather than the scientist.

The view that anthropomorphic robots are the future of laboratory research is based on the assumption that using human-friendly hand tools is the optimal way to carry out experiments. However, this is not necessarily the case, as Dr McClymont and Professor Freemont discuss, citing both the challenges and benefits of non-humanoid robot automated processes.

Laboratory automation has matured over the past 30 years to solve specific problems, carrying out experiments in efficient ways that do not mimic human movements. What we need now is to alter our perception of automation by providing accessible, open source and inexpensive hardware solutions to routine ‘wetlab’ protocols and assay measurements.

The full article is available at Nature Biotechnology (