dbSNP: no longer single….?

I think this is very interesting–dbSNP has a new logo. dbSNP is no longer “single”. Keeping dbSNP as a professional name, but also has a new name for social situations: “Short Genetic Variations”.

I was just checking my twitter feed, and found out something fascinating in the new release.  Here was the item that prompted me to look:

RT @yokofakun: #dbsnp134 has been released: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/projects/SNP/docs/build134.txt

Pierre forwarded that notice, and I decided to check out the release notes. Hidden in there is a small piece of information that I think makes a big mental leap for a lot of people….

1) dbSNP logo change (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/projects/SNP/)

As there has been confusion about the types of variations dbSNP actually contains, the dbSNP logo text was changed from “Single Nucleotide Polymorphism” to “Short Genetic Variations”. We hope that this change will reflect the wide range of dbSNP’s variation content, and thereby prevent any future misunderstandings.

In spite of its name, dbSNP is not limited to single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), but stores information about multiple small-scale variations that include insertions/deletions, microsatellites, and non-polymorphic variants. dbSNP also stores common and rare variations along with their genotypes and allele frequencies.

Most importantly, dbSNP includes clinically significant variations, and should NOT be assumed to hold only benign polymorphisms.

Some of that stuff will be obvious to a lot of our readers. But you’d be surprised at what we find in the training rooms. Many people are really shocked to see that dbSNP contains a lot more than just single nucleotide polymorphisms. And we make a point of mentioning that the UCSC Genome Browser calls their SNP track “simple nucleotide polymorphisms” to reflect that idea. For many people in our workshops that’s the first time they have processed that knowledge.

In case you are curious, here’s what an old header looked like at dbSNP (I have taken this from our training materials):

I think this is a great move. Subtle, but great. And they must have thought it was important based on that release note piece. dbSNP is no longer single. I feel like I should send a gift….