New guide helps researchers mine genome data

BETHESDA, Md., October 15, 2002 -- The Internet is teeming with user's guides for everything from cell phones to the space station. Now, to encourage greater scientific exploration of public databases containing the human genome sequence, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) has created "A User's Guide to the Human Genome."

Published as a supplement to Nature Genetics and freely available at http://www.nature.com/ng/web_specials/, the peer-reviewed, how-to manual is aimed at spreading the word about how easy it is for researchers to mine the wealth of human genomic data that is freely available online.

"There is no point amassing all of this data in data warehouses if no one is able to use it," said Andreas D. Baxevanis, Ph.D., associate director of NHGRI's Division of Intramural Research (DIR) and co-author of the guide. "There is a barrier that people perceive about their ability to access genomic data and effectively use the data."

NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., who was one of the guide's co-authors, added, "The average researcher in a biological or medical lab is somewhat overwhelmed by the avalanche of new freely-available data produced by the Human Genome Project. They know it's incredibly useful, but they're not quite sure how to use it. This guide was designed to overcome that barrier, and give 'power to the people.'"

In addition to Drs. Collins and Baxevanis, the guide was co-authored by Tyra G. Wolfsberg, Ph.D., associate director of NHGRI's Bioinformatics and Scientific Programming Core, Mark Guyer, Ph.D., director of the NHGRI Division of Extramural Research (DER), and Kris Wetterstrand, M.S., a program analyst for DER.

To further underscore the need for the user's guide, Dr. Baxevanis pointed to a Wellcome Trust's survey of nearly 800 biomedical scientists in 2001. The survey found that only half of the researchers who were alr

Contact: Geoff Spencer
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

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