support_MODs

Video Tip of the Week: FlyBase TV, and a letter of support for model organism communities

This week’s video tip was prompted by a couple of things. First, it was a tweet from FlyBase, about their video channel. It’s been a while since we’d done a FlyBase Tip of the Week, so that was enough of a reason.

But it also came just after I was thinking about the importance of the model organisms, based on the campaign by the model organism databases to save their funding. Here’s a tweet from the yeast genome database (SGD) with a plea:

But this letter cites yeast, flies, WormBase, ZFIN, MGI, RGD and Gene Ontology as well.

mergeI have a soft spot for model organisms, not only because of the tremendous amount of great biology they’ve provided. I was a postdoc at The Jackson Lab, and I am acutely aware of how crucial it is to have the depth of the species specialists involved in creating and maintaining the resources that are appropriate for their organism. But it’s more than just institutional knowledge and data, of course. It’s also the importance of the community of researchers working on that organism, supporting them and having their needs met in many ways with species-specific resources.

So this week’s tip highlights some features of the FlyBase tools, as a way to remind folks of the great work that’s going on at model organism databases (MODs).

Now, if you haven’t already done so, please consider signing on to the letter of support for these databases. You can read more about the issue over at the site, but briefly:

NHGRI/NIH has recently advanced a plan in which the MODs will be integrated into a single combined database, along with a 30% reduction in funding for each MOD (see also these Nature and Science news stories). While increased integration will present many advantages, the plan will result in a loss of critical organism-specific datasets. The funding cut will also cripple core functions such as high quality literature curation and genome annotation, degrading the utility of the MODs. Given the large number of scientists that this policy change would affect and the importance of their work, this is a matter of extreme concern.

I have always shouted about the importance of high-quality curation. It’s so undervalued, but it’s only more and more crucial now that we are getting so much sequence data and we need the best existing knowledge to help guide us through it. Now is not the time to cut back on curation.

So if you have valued MOD data and community sites, please consider signing on to the letter of support.

Quick links:

FlyBase:  http://flybase.org/

Support Model Organism Databases letter: http://www.genetics-gsa.org/MODSupport/

References:

Hayden, Erica Check. “Funding for model-organism databases in trouble.” Nature News. () DOI: 10.1038/nature.2016.20134

Kaiser, Jocelyn. “Funding for key data resources in jeopardy.” Science 351.6268 (2016): 14-14. DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6268.14

Attrill, Helen, et al. “FlyBase: establishing a Gene Group resource for Drosophila melanogaster.” Nucleic acids research (2015): gkv1046. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkv1046