Public service announcement: NIH #GSPfuture meeting livestream now

There’s a workshop running today and tomorrow, called:

Future Opportunities for Genome Sequencing and Beyond:
A Planning Workshop for the National Human Genome Research Institute

July 28-29, 2014

It’s live streaming here:  http://www.genome.gov/GenomeTVLive/

I’m sure the recordings will be available later, though, if you come across this at a later date.

 

Friday SNPpets

Welcome to our Friday feature link collection: SNPpets. During the week we come across a lot of links and reads that we think are interesting, but don’t make it to a blog post. Here they are for your enjoyment…

What’s the Answer? (free + useful protein tools)

Biostars is a site for asking, answering and discussing bioinformatics questions and issues. We are members of the Biostars_logo community and find it very useful. Often questions and answers arise at Biostars that are germane to our readers (end users of genomics resources). Every Thursday we will be highlighting one of those items or discussions here in this thread. You can ask questions in this thread, or you can always join in at Biostars.

One of the things we still don’t really have a handle on is the “lists of tools” problem. I think this leads to some really unfortunate duplication of efforts. A lot of folks have attempted to create lists of tools for certain purposes, but they are hard to maintain, the focus of the lists vary. Sometimes useful tools are found in unusual or informal places, sometimes hard to categorize, and the support…well…yeah. So I keep tabs on various lists that I find, because sometimes there are some gems in there which are new to me. And to have active practitioners describing what’s useful to them is particularly helpful.

This week’s highlighted post is from someone focusing on protein tools, who is collecting a list of them.

Tool: A growing collection of “Free and useful protein-science tools”

I thought that it might be useful to put together a list of the tools that I am currently using with a short description and usage example.

I will add to it in future, and I am also looking forward to contributions: Please feel free to add your favorite tools if you like:

https://github.com/rasbt/protein-science/blob/master/scripts-and-tools/more_protein-science_tools.md

se.raschka

Check out the current list, and suggest others if you have some.

Video Tip of the Week: Nowomics, set up alert feeds for new data

Yeah, I know you know. There’s a lot of genomics and proteomics data coming out every day–some of it in the traditional publication route, but some of it isn’t–and it’s only getting harder and harder to wrangle the useful information to access the signal from the noise.  I can remember when merely looking through the (er, paper-based) table of contents of Cell and Nature would get me up to speed for a week. But increasingly, the data I need isn’t even coming through the papers.

Like everyone else, I have a variety of strategies to keep notified of different things I need to see. I use the MyNCBI stored searches to keep me posted on things that come from via the NCBI system. I signed up for the OMIM new “MIM-Match” service as well. But there’s still a lot of room for new ways to collect and filter new data and information. Today’s tip focuses on a service to do that: Nowomics. This is a freely available tool to help you keep track of important new data. Here’s a quick video overview of how to see what’s going on with Nowomics.

The goal of Nowomics is to offer you an actively updated feed of relevant information on genes or topics of interest, using text mining and ontology term harvesting from a range of sources. What makes them different from MyNCBI or OMIM is the range and types of data sources they use. The user sets up some genes or Gene Ontology terms to “follow”, and the software regularly checks for changes in the source sites. You can go in an look at your feed, you can filter it for different types of data, and you can see what’s new (“latest”) or what’s being hotly chattered about (“popular”) using Altmetric strategies. For example, here’s a paper that people seemed to find worth talking about, based on the tweets and the Mendeley occurrences.

example_paper This tool is in early stages of development–if there are features you’d like to see or other sources you’d think are useful, the Nowomics team is eager for feedback. You can find a link to contact them over at their site, or locate them on Facebook and Twitter. You can also learn more from their blog. You can also learn more about the philosophy and foundations of Nowomics from their slide presentation below.

 

Quick links:

Nowomics: http://nowomics.com/

Example gene feed: http://nowomics.com/gene/human/BRCA2

References:

Acland A., T. Barrett, J. Beck, D. A. Benson, C. Bollin, E. Bolton, S. H. Bryant, K. Canese, D. M. Church & K. Clark & (2014). Database resources of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Nucleic Acids Research, 42 (D1) D7-D17. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkt1146

Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, OMIM®. McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD), July 22 2014. World Wide Web URL: http://omim.org/

A History of Bioinformatics (told from the Year 2039)

A week or so back I was watching the chatter around the #ISMB / #BOSC2014 meeting, and saw a number of amusing and intriguing comments about Titus Brown’s keynote talk.

You can see a lot of chatter about it in the Storify. I was delighted to soon see this follow up tweet:

I didn’t have time to watch it right away, but when I did, I really enjoyed it. It’s worth your time if you have some interest about the directions of this field. It’s not easy to pull off a talk like you are 25 years into the future. It’s also rife with danger–as later people might use pieces of it against you. Lincoln Stein wrote an amusing follow-up to to a prediction talk he gave in 2003, entitled: Bioinformatics: Gone in 2012 (follow up piece linked below).  Or it could just end up so embarrassingly off-target that you’ll look like some of the folks that Titus highlights in the talk, whose predictions about future technologies were pretty…um…well, you’ll see. But it’s a clever way to think about the future that we want, and how the path could look to get us there.

SPOILERS: Here are some of my favorite tidbits, mostly for my own notes:

  • Bioinformatics sweatshops [I fear this too]
  • California has disappeared [egads, but...]
  • MicrosoftElsevier [snicker]
  • Universities have collapsed [hmm, not convinced on this]
  • Pioneering appointment of Phil Bourne: “NIH finally realized that training was important” [~20min; oh, please let this come true]
  • the problems of “Glam Data” [contrast to "glam journals" today]
  • in the future, because of better education, 80% of the US will accept evolution [from your lips to...wait...]
  • ~33min, interesting look at the actual outcomes of techno-progress and how they diverged from predictions; via Heinlein’s “Where To?” with 4 curves of predicted human progress (linked below). [Heh, I'm in this argument a lot, this could be handy--piece + chart linked below]
  • “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m trying new things.” [~38min, about forging unchartered directions in a young field]
  • At the end, ~56min: “Let the crazy people do the crazy things. See what happens.” [Testify.]

Boy, the pressure is on Phil Bourne to solve everything. This is a recurring theme at every genomics and bioinformatics event I see lately…I wish him luck sorting this out. Good news from this talk is that he seems to have done it.

And the slides are here, with Talk notes for the Bioinformatics Open Source Conference (2014) at Titus’ blog.

References:

Stein L.D. (2008). Bioinformatics: alive and kicking, Genome Biology, 9 (12) 114. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/gb-2008-9-12-114

Heinlein R. (1952). Where to?, Galaxy Magazine, February 13-22. ["Your personal telephone will be small enough to carry in your handbag." Well, he nailed that one.]

{sorry,  had to republish to get it in to the ResearchBlogging queue. RB was down yesterday.}

Friday SNPpets

Welcome to our Friday feature link collection: SNPpets. During the week we come across a lot of links and reads that we think are interesting, but don’t make it to a blog post. Here they are for your enjoyment…

Heh:

 

What’s The Answer? (data sharing with Bittorrent)

Biostars is a site for asking, answering and discussing bioinformatics questions and issues. We are members of the Biostars_logo community and find it very useful. Often questions and answers arise at Biostars that are germane to our readers (end users of genomics resources). Every Thursday we will be highlighting one of those items or discussions here in this thread. You can ask questions in this thread, or you can always join in at Biostars.

This week’s highlighted Biostar item is a new feature–and they are looking for your input and testing if it is a feature you might use.

Forum: Data sharing via Bittorrent is coming to Biostar

Hello Everyone,

We are adding bittorrent data sharing to Biostars.  Help us identify bugs and issues by creating a few torrents and adding them to posts on the test site. Also feel free to comment and provide suggestions and feedback. The description of how it works is at:

http://test.biostars.org/info/data/

An example post with data can be seen at:

http://test.biostars.org/p/101/

A few details on how it works:

  1. Torrents can get attached to posts, answers or comments
  2. A post may have multiple torrents attached.
  3. Biostars will attempt to connect the IP number of the Bittorrent peer connection to the IP number of the Biostar user account. This allows you to see who the person that shares the data is.
  4. Anonymous users cannot create torrents but they may share existing datasets.
  5. Data may be shared without making it visible on Biostar (although this should not be considered a secure way to share data)

(note: the test site will not log you into your old account since the emails are protected so don’t report that as an issue)

Istvan Albert

Although it seems to be well received, people have issues with some institutions that don’t allow Bittorrent access due to some past bad behaviors…so people have raised that issue. So if you want to try it out, or have concerns, let ‘em know over there.

Video Tip of the Week: VectorBase, for invertebrate vectors of human pathogens

I wish I had been clever enough to coordinate this week’s Video Tip of the Week with “Mosquito Week” a couple of months back. There was a bunch of chatter at that time about this infographic that was released by Bill Gates, which illustrated the contribution of various human-killing species. The mosquito was deemed: The Deadliest Animal in the World. Jonathan Eisen took issue with the numbers, however, noting that if you are consistent about the way you count disease vectors, humans come out on top (or, bottom, I guess, in this category). Still, Eisen noted, mosquitoes are important and demand attention. But there are lots of other vectors to keep in mind as well.

Luckily, the team at VectorBase is on it. VectorBase has been providing information on invertebrate vectors of human pathogens for a long time. They collect a variety of species data, including mosquitoes, but also a lot more–ticks, lice, flies, etc. Check out their list of organisms here: https://www.vectorbase.org/organisms . They have information not only on basic biology, but also information about the very key problems of resistance to insecticides as well.

We’ve been fans of VectorBase for years, and have highlighted them in the past, after a site redesign a couple of years ago, and a few other times with various other news tidbits. But I was delighted to discover recently that they have a new overview video which is my favorite kind to highlight in these tips. If you are new to a resource, a brief overview is the most helpful way to understand the kinds of data and tools you’ll see at their site. They have a lot of other slide/PDF tutorials as well, which focus on specific tools and features that will supplement an overview. But in our experience, a video overview is a bit more tempting when you are first becoming acquainted with a resource.

So here I’ve embedded the VectorBase overview, which you can also find here: https://www.vectorbase.org/tutorials/tour. The slides to accompany it are also available there.

So have a look at VectorBase’s important collection of species data and tools. You can also read more about their foundations and directions in their publications, including the one below. I keep up with news about their new features from their newsletter, but you can also see other types of community outreach strategies over at their site.

Quick link:

VectorBase: www.vectorbase.org

Reference:

Megy K., D. Lawson, D. Campbell, E. Dialynas, D. S. T. Hughes, G. Koscielny, C. Louis, R. M. MacCallum, S. N. Redmond & A. Sheehan & (2012). VectorBase: improvements to a bioinformatics resource for invertebrate vector genomics, Nucleic Acids Research, 40 (D1) D729-D734. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkr1089

Bonus video: The Gates blog hosted this highly-produced video about mosquito bites and their impact.

Friday SNPpets

Welcome to our Friday feature link collection: SNPpets. During the week we come across a lot of links and reads that we think are interesting, but don’t make it to a blog post. Here they are for your enjoyment…

This is AWESOME:

(you can see the Hi-res version here: http://helikoid.si/ismb14/zitnik-zupan-ismb14.png )

What’s the Answer? (non-PhD bioinformatics job skills)

Biostars is a site for asking, answering and discussing bioinformatics questions and issues. We are members of the Biostars_logo community and find it very useful. Often questions and answers arise at Biostars that are germane to our readers (end users of genomics resources). Every Thursday we will be highlighting one of those items or discussions here in this thread. You can ask questions in this thread, or you can always join in at Biostars.

This week’s highlighted post was popular, and offers some chatter on the state of the field with regard to employment opportunities. And this is the kind of question that it’s hard to get answers out of the literature for.

Question: I’m applying for a non-PhD bioinformatics position in your lab. What do you look for?

I’ve been lurking here for years and I’d like to cover a topic that isn’t covered that much.

Bioinformatics is a tough field to not have a PhD. Nonetheless, research positions do exist where only a bachelors is required and research experience is also stated as between 0-2 years. I’d like to give a hypothetical situation that describes a good percent of such applicants to these positions. The motivation here is to survey what are ultimately core requirements for these positions and what is maybe considered “bells and whistles”.

I’m fresh out of college and I have a BS and/or Masters in Bioinformatics along with ~two years research in a lab. I’m applying to your lab, what are you looking for? And what requirement(s) can you excuse or not weight that heavily?

Edit. Sort of a related question, is requiring knowing hadoop and also the biochemistry/biophysics behind RNA-seq at the same time an outrageous expectation for a non-Phd?

scical

Everyone has been following the drama (and the graphs) about how many PhDs vs how many academic jobs there are. Certainly not everyone needs to have a PhD, and this seems a valid and useful question. It got some thoughtful answers from potential employers too. Check out the discussion.