January 21, 2008 (Seattle, WA) – Thanks to a $1 million grant, OpenHelix (www.openhelix.com) has been developing an innovative set of online tools for use by scientific researchers. The tools will greatly reduce the amount of time necessary to locate and use the vast genomics and bioinformatics resources available to scholars and scientists. Once relevant resources are located through an innovative search tool, researchers will learn how to use them with extensive tutorial suites. The SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grant was awarded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (Grant number 9R44HG004531).
Freely accessible genomics and bioinformatics resources
With numerous online databases and other genomics and bioinformatics resources available to scientists, the time spent identifying thebest resources and using them in an efficient manner has been a challenge for even the most well-staffed organization.Much data is underutilized due to a lack of awareness of its existence. When scholars and scientists do happen to locate needed information in an online resource, they then must figure out each resource’s unique navigation methods and each documentation style. Introductory training on many resources is either nonexistent or not sufficient to effectively teach users how to best use the site.
“The need for such a resource is clear in the bioinformatics area,” says Joan E. Brooks Ph.D., co-founder of Garbrook Knowledge Resources and former co-founder of Proteome, an online genomics information database company. “The OpenHelix solution will be a promising leap forward to assure the public investment in these resources is fully realized.”
Improving efficiency and effectiveness of research
While genomics resources and data continue to grow rapidly, scientists are at a disadvantage when trying to decide the best resource for them. The search and tutorial portal will enable faster completion of research projects, leading to an accelerated increase in the use and dissemination of scientific knowledge.“We are now looking at some very innovative ways to search a large number of resources, including semantic search using widely used and accepted ontologies” Warren Lathe, co-founder, OpenHelix Chief Scientific Officer and Principal Investigator on the grant said, “The science community will be very excited about the tools we are going to offer this year.”
The groundbreaking search function will provide various methods for locating and ranking genomics resources. As they use the OpenHelix online search for their projects, scientists and other researchers will use a ranking system within the search results to filter the list that pertains to their particular needs, something not previously available.The tutorials also include training material for use in the classroom setting, giving faculty ready-made, updated material to train students.By matching researchers quickly and efficiently with the resources that are most relevant to their needs and providing training so the researcher can effectively use the resource, the grant from the NHGRI will help fulfill the promise of research breakthroughs provided by the post-genomic era.
OpenHelix, LLC, (www.openhelix.com) provides the genomics knowledge you need when you need it. OpenHelix currently provides online self-run tutorials and on-site training for institutions and companies on the most powerful and popular free, web based, publicly accessible bioinformatics resources. In addition, OpenHelix is contracted by resource providers to provide comprehensive, long-term training and outreach programs. Headquartered in Washington State, OpenHelix also has offices in San Francisco, Boston and North Carolina. Further information can be found on www.openhelix.com or by calling 1-888-861-5051.