In reflecting on the history of CAS recently, I came upon a copy of an early CAS employee newsletter from 1931 containing a quote from then-Editor E.J. Crane that is as true today as it was then. He noted for his staff, “Some jobs are never done. Ours is of that kind. In a job that can never be completed, the best objective is continuous improvement. Improvement is always possible.” Dr. Crane surely could never have imagined that the volume of scientific publications that his team curated in a year is now completed by CAS scientists each week. He was certainly correct, however, that the work of scientific discovery is never done but is continuously improving, and such is also the case for CAS.
Since our inception 114 years ago, CAS has been connecting scientific discoveries to accelerate progress. That was the vision of CAS’s founders and the volunteer scientists who did the curation work for many years. They had the foresight to understand the value those connections would have as the volume of research grew. By empowering scientists to build on the work of their peers, past and present, these connections unify the global scientific effort across generations like the crankshaft that connects the pistons of an engine, transferring the energy of discovery from one step to the next, and in doing so, accelerating progress. That fundamental need for connections between discoveries has not changed over the years, but the ways that innovators can extract insight from that connected corpus of information constantly advances. Thus, CAS must continuously advance our processes, technologies, and capabilities to capture those opportunities.
Last week, CAS launched our new brand. This change is more than a new logo, but really an outward reflection of an evolution that has been underway for a number of years. True to our roots, the new brand highlights the importance of the previously unseen connections our scientists make between discoveries and the value of the hindsight, insight, and foresight that CAS uniquely provides to inform efficient innovation that impacts lives.
The new brand also reflects some of the key changes that are transforming scientific innovation. It is clear from my conversations with our stakeholders in organizations large and small, from big pharma to biotech startup, consumer goods giants to agrochemical specialists, and patent offices to academic labs, that the future of innovation is increasingly digital, collaborative, and interdisciplinary. To ensure we can meet their needs now and in future, CAS must continue evolving as well. As technologies such as machine learning and laboratory automation advance, research organizations around the world are focusing on digitalization initiatives aimed at gaining workflow efficiencies, enhancing innovation, and even improving safety. These technologies offer opportunities to use scientific information in new ways and extract new insights, but also create urgency around scientific data challenges that are hindering success.
Research is more connected than ever before, with scientists collaborating across time zones from different sides of the world to progress pipelines. Many innovations get to market only after passing through multiple organizations, from academic or start up roots to large commercial research organizations. Previously distinct scientific disciplines are now blending, with many innovations drawing on multiple areas of scientific expertise. The best new ideas and solutions are often borrowed from unrelated industries. These evolving approaches to scientific discovery have great potential to enhance progress. To support their success, more comprehensive and connected information resources, and in some cases customized solutions, are required.
Over the past few years, we have developed new solutions including SciFindern, CAS Formulus®, and CAS Scientific Patent Explorer™, to address key information gaps in emerging R&D workflows. We also recently launched enterprise solutions, CAS SciFinder Discovery Platform™ and STN IP Protection Suite™, to meet information needs across the innovation journey in a more connected way. As the volume of published science continues to multiply, we are making significant new investments in our content infrastructure to ensure our curation process is efficient and sustainable for the future, while increasing the breadth of our scientific coverage, and the depth of insights and connections our scientists provide. Furthermore, we have embraced our customers’ desire to leverage our unique content, technology, and expertise in more customized ways with the launch of CAS Custom Services, which are supporting the success of a wide range of projects including predictive machine learning, API workflow integration, and scientific knowledge management.
While many things are changing at CAS, our fundamental values endure. The COVID-19 pandemic has re-engaged the world with the importance of science and highlighted the value of collaboration and information sharing to accelerate progress. One of the first things I noticed when I joined CAS more than seven years ago was the depth of our employee’s passion for scientific discovery and the pride they have in the role CAS plays in that process. That passion is a meaningful connection we share with our customers and stakeholders around the world, and that shared commitment is at the core of our brand. It motivates us and drives our scientists and technologists to persevere in this work that, as Dr. Crane highlighted, is never done. The critical impact of this work motivates all of us at CAS and drives our on-going evolution. We know that every improvement to our content, our processes, our solutions, and our capabilities can make all the difference to a student’s project, a company’s product, or a patient’s treatment. It is those everyday breakthroughs, enabled one connection at a time, that we celebrate and that sustain our passion for discovery.