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1.  Detecting evolution of bioinformatics with a content and co-authorship analysis 
SpringerPlus  2013;2:186.
Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary research field that applies advanced computational techniques to biological data. Bibliometrics analysis has recently been adopted to understand the knowledge structure of a research field by citation pattern. In this paper, we explore the knowledge structure of Bioinformatics from the perspective of a core open access Bioinformatics journal, BMC Bioinformatics with trend analysis, the content and co-authorship network similarity, and principal component analysis. Publications in four core journals including Bioinformatics – Oxford Journal and four conferences in Bioinformatics were harvested from DBLP. After converting publications into TF-IDF term vectors, we calculate the content similarity, and we also calculate the social network similarity based on the co-authorship network by utilizing the overlap measure between two co-authorship networks. Key terms is extracted and analyzed with PCA, visualization of the co-authorship network is conducted. The experimental results show that Bioinformatics is fast-growing, dynamic and diversified. The content analysis shows that there is an increasing overlap among Bioinformatics journals in terms of topics and more research groups participate in researching Bioinformatics according to the co-authorship network similarity.
PMCID: PMC3661075  PMID: 23710427
2.  A Longitudinal Social Network Analysis of the Editorial Boards of Medical Informatics and Bioinformatics Journals 
The goal of this research is to learn how the editorial staffs of bioinformatics and medical informatics journals provide support for cross-community exposure. Models such as co-citation and co-author analysis measure the relationships between researchers; but they do not capture how environments that support knowledge transfer across communities are organized.
In this paper, we propose a social network analysis model to study how editorial boards integrate researchers from disparate communities. We evaluate our model by building relational networks based on the editorial boards of approximately 40 journals that serve as research outlets in medical informatics and bioinformatics. We track the evolution of editorial relationships through a longitudinal investigation over the years 2000 through 2005.
Our findings suggest that there are research journals that support the collocation of editorial board members from the bioinformatics and medical informatics communities. Network centrality metrics indicate that editorial board members are located in the intersection of the communities and that the number of individuals in the intersection is growing with time.
Social network analysis methods provide insight into the relationships between the medical informatics and bioinformatics communities. The number of editorial board members facilitating the publication intersection of the communities has grown, but the intersection remains dependent on a small group of individuals and fragile.
PMCID: PMC2244883  PMID: 17329730
3.  Promoting synergistic research and education in genomics and bioinformatics 
BMC Genomics  2008;9(Suppl 1):I1.
Bioinformatics and Genomics are closely related disciplines that hold great promises for the advancement of research and development in complex biomedical systems, as well as public health, drug design, comparative genomics, personalized medicine and so on. Research and development in these two important areas are impacting the science and technology.
High throughput sequencing and molecular imaging technologies marked the beginning of a new era for modern translational medicine and personalized healthcare. The impact of having the human sequence and personalized digital images in hand has also created tremendous demands of developing powerful supercomputing, statistical learning and artificial intelligence approaches to handle the massive bioinformatics and personalized healthcare data, which will obviously have a profound effect on how biomedical research will be conducted toward the improvement of human health and prolonging of human life in the future. The International Society of Intelligent Biological Medicine ( and its official journals, the International Journal of Functional Informatics and Personalized Medicine ( and the International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design ( in collaboration with International Conference on Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (Biocomp), touch tomorrow's bioinformatics and personalized medicine throughout today's efforts in promoting the research, education and awareness of the upcoming integrated inter/multidisciplinary field. The 2007 international conference on Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BIOCOMP07) was held in Las Vegas, the United States of American on June 25-28, 2007. The conference attracted over 400 papers, covering broad research areas in the genomics, biomedicine and bioinformatics. The Biocomp 2007 provides a common platform for the cross fertilization of ideas, and to help shape knowledge and scientific achievements by bridging these two very important disciplines into an interactive and attractive forum. Keeping this objective in mind, Biocomp 2007 aims to promote interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary education and research. 25 high quality peer-reviewed papers were selected from 400+ submissions for this supplementary issue of BMC Genomics. Those papers contributed to a wide-range of important research fields including gene expression data analysis and applications, high-throughput genome mapping, sequence analysis, gene regulation, protein structure prediction, disease prediction by machine learning techniques, systems biology, database and biological software development. We always encourage participants submitting proposals for genomics sessions, special interest research sessions, workshops and tutorials to Professor Hamid R. Arabnia ( in order to ensure that Biocomp continuously plays the leadership role in promoting inter/multidisciplinary research and education in the fields. Biocomp received top conference ranking with a high score of 0.95/1.00. Biocomp is academically co-sponsored by the International Society of Intelligent Biological Medicine and the Research Laboratories and Centers of Harvard University – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Indiana University - Purdue University, Georgia Tech – Emory University, UIUC, UCLA, Columbia University, University of Texas at Austin and University of Iowa etc. Biocomp - Worldcomp brings leading scientists together across the nation and all over the world and aims to promote synergistic components such as keynote lectures, special interest sessions, workshops and tutorials in response to the advances of cutting-edge research.
PMCID: PMC3226105  PMID: 18366597
4.  Concentration of the Most-Cited Papers in the Scientific Literature: Analysis of Journal Ecosystems 
PLoS ONE  2006;1(1):e5.
A minority of scientific journals publishes the majority of scientific papers and receives the majority of citations. The extent of concentration of the most influential articles is less well known.
Methods/Principal Findings
The 100 most-cited papers in the last decade in each of 21 scientific fields were analyzed; fields were considered as ecosystems and their “species” (journal) diversity was evaluated. Only 9% of journals in Journal Citation Reports had published at least one such paper. Among this 9%, half of them had published only one such paper. The number of journals that had published a larger number of most-cited papers decreased exponentially according to a Lotka law. Except for three scientific fields, six journals accounted for 53 to 94 of the 100 most-cited papers in their field. With increasing average number of citations per paper (citation density) in a scientific field, concentration of the most-cited papers in a few journals became even more prominent (p<0.001). Concentration was unrelated to the number of papers published or number of journals available in a scientific field. Multidisciplinary journals accounted for 24% of all most-cited papers, with large variability across fields. The concentration of most-cited papers in multidisciplinary journals was most prominent in fields with high citation density (correlation coefficient 0.70, p<0.001). Multidisciplinary journals had published fewer than eight of the 100 most-cited papers in eight scientific fields (none in two fields). Journals concentrating most-cited original articles often differed from those concentrating most-cited reviews. The concentration of the most-influential papers was stronger than the already prominent concentration of papers published and citations received.
Despite a plethora of available journals, the most influential papers are extremely concentrated in few journals, especially in fields with high citation density. Existing multidisciplinary journals publish selectively most-cited papers from fields with high citation density.
PMCID: PMC1762344  PMID: 17183679
5.  2K09 and thereafter : the coming era of integrative bioinformatics, systems biology and intelligent computing for functional genomics and personalized medicine research 
BMC Genomics  2010;11(Suppl 3):I1.
Significant interest exists in establishing synergistic research in bioinformatics, systems biology and intelligent computing. Supported by the United States National Science Foundation (NSF), International Society of Intelligent Biological Medicine (, International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design (IJCBDD) and International Journal of Functional Informatics and Personalized Medicine, the ISIBM International Joint Conferences on Bioinformatics, Systems Biology and Intelligent Computing (ISIBM IJCBS 2009) attracted more than 300 papers and 400 researchers and medical doctors world-wide. It was the only inter/multidisciplinary conference aimed to promote synergistic research and education in bioinformatics, systems biology and intelligent computing. The conference committee was very grateful for the valuable advice and suggestions from honorary chairs, steering committee members and scientific leaders including Dr. Michael S. Waterman (USC, Member of United States National Academy of Sciences), Dr. Chih-Ming Ho (UCLA, Member of United States National Academy of Engineering and Academician of Academia Sinica), Dr. Wing H. Wong (Stanford, Member of United States National Academy of Sciences), Dr. Ruzena Bajcsy (UC Berkeley, Member of United States National Academy of Engineering and Member of United States Institute of Medicine of the National Academies), Dr. Mary Qu Yang (United States National Institutes of Health and Oak Ridge, DOE), Dr. Andrzej Niemierko (Harvard), Dr. A. Keith Dunker (Indiana), Dr. Brian D. Athey (Michigan), Dr. Weida Tong (FDA, United States Department of Health and Human Services), Dr. Cathy H. Wu (Georgetown), Dr. Dong Xu (Missouri), Drs. Arif Ghafoor and Okan K Ersoy (Purdue), Dr. Mark Borodovsky (Georgia Tech, President of ISIBM), Dr. Hamid R. Arabnia (UGA, Vice-President of ISIBM), and other scientific leaders. The committee presented the 2009 ISIBM Outstanding Achievement Awards to Dr. Joydeep Ghosh (UT Austin), Dr. Aidong Zhang (Buffalo) and Dr. Zhi-Hua Zhou (Nanjing) for their significant contributions to the field of intelligent biological medicine.
PMCID: PMC2999338  PMID: 21143775
6.  Genomics, molecular imaging, bioinformatics, and bio-nano-info integration are synergistic components of translational medicine and personalized healthcare research 
BMC Genomics  2008;9(Suppl 2):I1.
Supported by National Science Foundation (NSF), International Society of Intelligent Biological Medicine (ISIBM), International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design and International Journal of Functional Informatics and Personalized Medicine, IEEE 7th Bioinformatics and Bioengineering attracted more than 600 papers and 500 researchers and medical doctors. It was the only synergistic inter/multidisciplinary IEEE conference with 24 Keynote Lectures, 7 Tutorials, 5 Cutting-Edge Research Workshops and 32 Scientific Sessions including 11 Special Research Interest Sessions that were designed dynamically at Harvard in response to the current research trends and advances. The committee was very grateful for the IEEE Plenary Keynote Lectures given by: Dr. A. Keith Dunker (Indiana), Dr. Jun Liu (Harvard), Dr. Brian Athey (Michigan), Dr. Mark Borodovsky (Georgia Tech and President of ISIBM), Dr. Hamid Arabnia (Georgia and Vice-President of ISIBM), Dr. Ruzena Bajcsy (Berkeley and Member of United States National Academy of Engineering and Member of United States Institute of Medicine of the National Academies), Dr. Mary Yang (United States National Institutes of Health and Oak Ridge, DOE), Dr. Chih-Ming Ho (UCLA and Member of United States National Academy of Engineering and Academician of Academia Sinica), Dr. Andy Baxevanis (United States National Institutes of Health), Dr. Arif Ghafoor (Purdue), Dr. John Quackenbush (Harvard), Dr. Eric Jakobsson (UIUC), Dr. Vladimir Uversky (Indiana), Dr. Laura Elnitski (United States National Institutes of Health) and other world-class scientific leaders. The Harvard meeting was a large academic event 100% full-sponsored by IEEE financially and academically. After a rigorous peer-review process, the committee selected 27 high-quality research papers from 600 submissions. The committee is grateful for contributions from keynote speakers Dr. Russ Altman (IEEE BIBM conference keynote lecturer on combining simulation and machine learning to recognize function in 4D), Dr. Mary Qu Yang (IEEE BIBM workshop keynote lecturer on new initiatives of detecting microscopic disease using machine learning and molecular biology, and Dr. Jack Y. Yang (IEEE BIBM workshop keynote lecturer on data mining and knowledge discovery in translational medicine) from the first IEEE Computer Society BioInformatics and BioMedicine (IEEE BIBM) international conference and workshops, November 2-4, 2007, Silicon Valley, California, USA.
PMCID: PMC3226104  PMID: 18831773
7.  Bioinformatics process management: information flow via a computational journal 
This paper presents the Bioinformatics Computational Journal (BCJ), a framework for conducting and managing computational experiments in bioinformatics and computational biology. These experiments often involve series of computations, data searches, filters, and annotations which can benefit from a structured environment. Systems to manage computational experiments exist, ranging from libraries with standard data models to elaborate schemes to chain together input and output between applications. Yet, although such frameworks are available, their use is not widespread–ad hoc scripts are often required to bind applications together. The BCJ explores another solution to this problem through a computer based environment suitable for on-site use, which builds on the traditional laboratory notebook paradigm. It provides an intuitive, extensible paradigm designed for expressive composition of applications. Extensive features facilitate sharing data, computational methods, and entire experiments. By focusing on the bioinformatics and computational biology domain, the scope of the computational framework was narrowed, permitting us to implement a capable set of features for this domain. This report discusses the features determined critical by our system and other projects, along with design issues. We illustrate the use of our implementation of the BCJ on two domain-specific examples.
PMCID: PMC2228283  PMID: 18053179
8.  High-throughput next-generation sequencing technologies foster new cutting-edge computing techniques in bioinformatics 
BMC Genomics  2009;10(Suppl 1):I1.
The advent of high-throughput next generation sequencing technologies have fostered enormous potential applications of supercomputing techniques in genome sequencing, epi-genetics, metagenomics, personalized medicine, discovery of non-coding RNAs and protein-binding sites. To this end, the 2008 International Conference on Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (Biocomp) – 2008 World Congress on Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Applied Computing (Worldcomp) was designed to promote synergistic inter/multidisciplinary research and education in response to the current research trends and advances. The conference attracted more than two thousand scientists, medical doctors, engineers, professors and students gathered at Las Vegas, Nevada, USA during July 14–17 and received great success. Supported by International Society of Intelligent Biological Medicine (ISIBM), International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design (IJCBDD), International Journal of Functional Informatics and Personalized Medicine (IJFIPM) and the leading research laboratories from Harvard, M.I.T., Purdue, UIUC, UCLA, Georgia Tech, UT Austin, U. of Minnesota, U. of Iowa etc, the conference received thousands of research papers. Each submitted paper was reviewed by at least three reviewers and accepted papers were required to satisfy reviewers' comments. Finally, the review board and the committee decided to select only 19 high-quality research papers for inclusion in this supplement to BMC Genomics based on the peer reviews only. The conference committee was very grateful for the Plenary Keynote Lectures given by: Dr. Brian D. Athey (University of Michigan Medical School), Dr. Vladimir N. Uversky (Indiana University School of Medicine), Dr. David A. Patterson (Member of United States National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, University of California at Berkeley) and Anousheh Ansari (Prodea Systems, Space Ambassador). The theme of the conference to promote synergistic research and education has been achieved successfully.
PMCID: PMC2709251  PMID: 19594867
10.  Introducing the medical bioinformatics in Journal of Translational Medicine 
The explosion of genome sequencing data along with genotype to phenotype correlation studies has created data deluge in the area of biomedical sciences. The aim of the Medical bioinformatics section is to aid the development and maturation of the field by providing a platform for the translation of these datasets into useful clinical applications. The increase in computing capabilities and availability of different data from advanced technologies will allow researchers to build System Biology models of various diseases in order to efficiently develop new therapeutic interventions and reduce the current prohibitively large costs of drug discovery.
The section welcomes studies on the development of Biomedical Informatics for translational medicine and clinical applications, including tools, methodologies and data integration.
PMCID: PMC3533924  PMID: 23013487
11.  Recommendations for Mass Spectrometry Data Quality Metrics for Open Access Data (Corollary to the Amsterdam Principles) 
Journal of Proteome Research  2011;11(2):1412-1419.
Policies supporting the rapid and open sharing of proteomic data are being implemented by the leading journals in the field. The proteomics community is taking steps to ensure that data are made publicly accessible and are of high quality, a challenging task that requires the development and deployment of methods for measuring and documenting data quality metrics. On September 18, 2010, the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) convened the “International Workshop on Proteomic Data Quality Metrics” in Sydney, Australia, to identify and address issues facing the development and use of such methods for open access proteomics data. The stakeholders at the workshop enumerated the key principles underlying a framework for data quality assessment in mass spectrometry data that will meet the needs of the research community, journals, funding agencies, and data repositories. Attendees discussed and agreed up on two primary needs for the wide use of quality metrics: (1) an evolving list of comprehensive quality metrics and (2) standards accompanied by software analytics. Attendees stressed the importance of increased education and training programs to promote reliable protocols in proteomics. This workshop report explores the historic precedents, key discussions, and necessary next steps to enhance the quality of open access data.
By agreement, this article is published simultaneously in the Journal of Proteome Research, Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, Proteomics, and Proteomics Clinical Applications as a public service to the research community. The peer review process was a coordinated effort conducted by a panel of referees selected by the journals.
PMCID: PMC3272102  PMID: 22053864
selected reaction monitoring; bioinformatics; data quality; metrics; open access; Amsterdam Principles; standards
12.  Identifying related journals through log analysis 
Bioinformatics  2009;25(22):3038-3039.
Motivation: With the explosion of biomedical literature and the evolution of online and open access, scientists are reading more articles from a wider variety of journals. Thus, the list of core journals relevant to their research may be less obvious and may often change over time. To help researchers quickly identify appropriate journals to read and publish in, we developed a web application for finding related journals based on the analysis of PubMed log data.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC2773256  PMID: 19734155
13.  bioNerDS: exploring bioinformatics’ database and software use through literature mining 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14:194.
Biology-focused databases and software define bioinformatics and their use is central to computational biology. In such a complex and dynamic field, it is of interest to understand what resources are available, which are used, how much they are used, and for what they are used. While scholarly literature surveys can provide some insights, large-scale computer-based approaches to identify mentions of bioinformatics databases and software from primary literature would automate systematic cataloguing, facilitate the monitoring of usage, and provide the foundations for the recovery of computational methods for analysing biological data, with the long-term aim of identifying best/common practice in different areas of biology.
We have developed bioNerDS, a named entity recogniser for the recovery of bioinformatics databases and software from primary literature. We identify such entities with an F-measure ranging from 63% to 91% at the mention level and 63-78% at the document level, depending on corpus. Not attaining a higher F-measure is mostly due to high ambiguity in resource naming, which is compounded by the on-going introduction of new resources. To demonstrate the software, we applied bioNerDS to full-text articles from BMC Bioinformatics and Genome Biology. General mention patterns reflect the remit of these journals, highlighting BMC Bioinformatics’s emphasis on new tools and Genome Biology’s greater emphasis on data analysis. The data also illustrates some shifts in resource usage: for example, the past decade has seen R and the Gene Ontology join BLAST and GenBank as the main components in bioinformatics processing.
Conclusions We demonstrate the feasibility of automatically identifying resource names on a large-scale from the scientific literature and show that the generated data can be used for exploration of bioinformatics database and software usage. For example, our results help to investigate the rate of change in resource usage and corroborate the suspicion that a vast majority of resources are created, but rarely (if ever) used thereafter. bioNerDS is available at
PMCID: PMC3693927  PMID: 23768135
14.  Bioinformatics as a driver, not a passenger, of translational biomedical research: Perspectives from the 6th Benelux bioinformatics conference 
The 6th Benelux Bioinformatics Conference (BBC11) held in Luxembourg on 12 and 13 December 2011 attracted around 200 participants, including internationally-renowned guest speakers and more than 100 peer-reviewed submissions from 3 continents. Researchers from the public and private sectors convened at BBC11 to discuss advances and challenges in a wide spectrum of application areas. A key theme of the conference was the contribution of bioinformatics to enable and accelerate translational and clinical research. The BBC11 stressed the need for stronger collaborating efforts across disciplines and institutions. The demonstration of the clinical relevance of systems approaches and of next-generation sequencing-based measurement technologies are among the existing opportunities for increasing impact in translational research. Translational bioinformatics will benefit from research models that strike a balance between the importance of protecting intellectual property and the need to openly access scientific and technological advances. The full conference proceedings are freely available at
PMCID: PMC3323358  PMID: 22414553
Translational bioinformatics; Clinical bioinformatics; Translational research; Systems biology; Next-generation sequencing; Bioinformatic infrastructure
15.  Teaching the ABCs of bioinformatics: a brief introduction to the Applied Bioinformatics Course 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2013;15(6):1004-1013.
With the development of the Internet and the growth of online resources, bioinformatics training for wet-lab biologists became necessary as a part of their education. This article describes a one-semester course ‘Applied Bioinformatics Course’ (ABC, that the author has been teaching to biological graduate students at the Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences for the past 13 years. ABC is a hands-on practical course to teach students to use online bioinformatics resources to solve biological problems related to their ongoing research projects in molecular biology. With a brief introduction to the background of the course, detailed information about the teaching strategies of the course are outlined in the ‘How to teach’ section. The contents of the course are briefly described in the ‘What to teach’ section with some real examples. The author wishes to share his teaching experiences and the online teaching materials with colleagues working in bioinformatics education both in local and international universities.
PMCID: PMC4239802  PMID: 24008274
bioinformatics education; introductory course; hands-on course; project-based learning; on-site teaching
16.  The Online Bioinformatics Resources Collection at the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System—a one-stop gateway to online bioinformatics databases and software tools 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;35(Database issue):D780-D785.
To bridge the gap between the rising information needs of biological and medical researchers and the rapidly growing number of online bioinformatics resources, we have created the Online Bioinformatics Resources Collection (OBRC) at the Health Sciences Library System (HSLS) at the University of Pittsburgh. The OBRC, containing 1542 major online bioinformatics databases and software tools, was constructed using the HSLS content management system built on the Zope® Web application server. To enhance the output of search results, we further implemented the Vivísimo Clustering Engine®, which automatically organizes the search results into categories created dynamically based on the textual information of the retrieved records. As the largest online collection of its kind and the only one with advanced search results clustering, OBRC is aimed at becoming a one-stop guided information gateway to the major bioinformatics databases and software tools on the Web. OBRC is available at the University of Pittsburgh's HSLS Web site ().
PMCID: PMC1669712  PMID: 17108360
17.  Advancing standards for bioinformatics activities: persistence, reproducibility, disambiguation and Minimum Information About a Bioinformatics investigation (MIABi) 
BMC Genomics  2010;11(Suppl 4):S27.
The 2010 International Conference on Bioinformatics, InCoB2010, which is the annual conference of the Asia-Pacific Bioinformatics Network (APBioNet) has agreed to publish conference papers in compliance with the proposed Minimum Information about a Bioinformatics investigation (MIABi), proposed in June 2009. Authors of the conference supplements in BMC Bioinformatics, BMC Genomics and Immunome Research have consented to cooperate in this process, which will include the procedures described herein, where appropriate, to ensure data and software persistence and perpetuity, database and resource re-instantiability and reproducibility of results, author and contributor identity disambiguation and MIABi-compliance. Wherever possible, datasets and databases will be submitted to depositories with standardized terminologies. As standards are evolving, this process is intended as a prelude to the 100 BioDatabases (BioDB100) initiative whereby APBioNet collaborators will contribute exemplar databases to demonstrate the feasibility of standards-compliance and participate in refining the process for peer-review of such publications and validation of scientific claims and standards compliance. This testbed represents another step in advancing standards-based processes in the bioinformatics community which is essential to the growing interoperability of biological data, information, knowledge and computational resources.
PMCID: PMC3005918  PMID: 21143811
20.  SYMBIOmatics: Synergies in Medical Informatics and Bioinformatics – exploring current scientific literature for emerging topics 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8(Suppl 1):S18.
The SYMBIOmatics Specific Support Action (SSA) is "an information gathering and dissemination activity" that seeks "to identify synergies between the bioinformatics and the medical informatics" domain to improve collaborative progress between both domains (ref. to ). As part of the project experts in both research fields will be identified and approached through a survey. To provide input to the survey, the scientific literature was analysed to extract topics relevant to both medical informatics and bioinformatics.
This paper presents results of a systematic analysis of the scientific literature from medical informatics research and bioinformatics research. In the analysis pairs of words (bigrams) from the leading bioinformatics and medical informatics journals have been used as indication of existing and emerging technologies and topics over the period 2000–2005 ("recent") and 1990–1990 ("past"). We identified emerging topics that were equally important to bioinformatics and medical informatics in recent years such as microarray experiments, ontologies, open source, text mining and support vector machines. Emerging topics that evolved only in bioinformatics were system biology, protein interaction networks and statistical methods for microarray analyses, whereas emerging topics in medical informatics were grid technology and tissue microarrays.
We conclude that although both fields have their own specific domains of interest, they share common technological developments that tend to be initiated by new developments in biotechnology and computer science.
PMCID: PMC1885847  PMID: 17430562
21.  Public Access for Teaching Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics 
Cell Biology Education  2003;2:98-111.
When the human genome project was conceived, its leaders wanted all researchers to have equal access to the data and associated research tools. Their vision of equal access provides an unprecedented teaching opportunity. Teachers and students have free access to the same databases that researchers are using. Furthermore, the recent movement to deliver scientific publications freely has presented a second source of current information for teaching. I have developed a genomics course that incorporates many of the public-domain databases, research tools, and peer-reviewed journals. These online resources provide students with exciting entree into the new fields of genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics. In this essay, I outline how these fields are especially well suited for inclusion in the undergraduate curriculum. Assessment data indicate that my students were able to utilize online information to achieve the educational goals of the course and that the experience positively influenced their perceptions of how they might contribute to biology.
PMCID: PMC162192  PMID: 12888845
genomic; proteomics; bioinformatics; teaching; research; undergraduate; model organisms; online databases; public domain
22.  The MidSouth Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Society 
MCBIOS is a regional bioinformatics society founded in 2002. Its mission is to foster networking and collaboration, and promote the professional development of its members with a strong orientation toward supporting our students. We seek to: 1) Advance the understanding of bioinformatics and computational biology; 2) Bring together scientists of various backgrounds and disciplines; 3) Facilitate the collaboration of researchers with similar or complementary backgrounds to solve biological, health, and/or medical problems; 4) Promote education in bioinformatics and computational biology; 5) Inform the general public on the results and implications of current research in bioinformatics and computational biology; and 6) Promote other activities that will contribute to the development of bioinformatics and computational biology. While centered in a region encompassing Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, western Tennessee, and eastern Texas, attendees at our annual conferences come from close to half the states in the US. These conferences are held early in the Spring semester and feature well-known keynote speakers. For more information, please visit and a related article on “Regional Societies: Fostering Competitive Research Through Virtual Infrastructures” at
PMCID: PMC2918133
23.  Bioinformatics and Multiepitope DNA Immunization to Design Rational Snake Antivenom 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e184.
Snake venom is a potentially lethal and complex mixture of hundreds of functionally diverse proteins that are difficult to purify and hence difficult to characterize. These difficulties have inhibited the development of toxin-targeted therapy, and conventional antivenom is still generated from the sera of horses or sheep immunized with whole venom. Although life-saving, antivenoms contain an immunoglobulin pool of unknown antigen specificity and known redundancy, which necessitates the delivery of large volumes of heterologous immunoglobulin to the envenomed victim, thus increasing the risk of anaphylactoid and serum sickness adverse effects. Here we exploit recent molecular sequence analysis and DNA immunization tools to design more rational toxin-targeted antivenom.
Methods and Findings
We developed a novel bioinformatic strategy that identified sequences encoding immunogenic and structurally significant epitopes from an expressed sequence tag database of a venom gland cDNA library of Echis ocellatus, the most medically important viper in Africa. Focusing upon snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) that are responsible for the severe and frequently lethal hemorrhage in envenomed victims, we identified seven epitopes that we predicted would be represented in all isomers of this multimeric toxin and that we engineered into a single synthetic multiepitope DNA immunogen (epitope string). We compared the specificity and toxin-neutralizing efficacy of antiserum raised against the string to antisera raised against a single SVMP toxin (or domains) or antiserum raised by conventional (whole venom) immunization protocols. The SVMP string antiserum, as predicted in silico, contained antibody specificities to numerous SVMPs in E. ocellatus venom and venoms of several other African vipers. More significantly, the antiserum cross-specifically neutralized hemorrhage induced by E. ocellatus and Cerastes cerastes cerastes venoms.
These data provide valuable sequence and structure/function information of viper venom hemorrhagins but, more importantly, a new opportunity to design toxin-specific antivenoms—the first major conceptual change in antivenom design after more than a century of production. Furthermore, this approach may be adapted to immunotherapy design in other cases where targets are numerous, diverse, and poorly characterized such as those generated by hypermutation or antigenic variation.
Editors' Summary
Of the 3,000 species of snakes worldwide, about 600 are poisonous; poisonous snakes are a particular problem in Africa and Southeast Asia. Because not all victims of snake bites get to hospital, estimates of illness and death caused are very approximate. However, one estimate quoted by the World Health Organization is that 2.5 million snake bites occur each year and 125,000 are fatal. The effects of snake bites vary, obviously depending on which snake does the biting, but immediate effects include swelling (around the bite or of other parts of the body), death of the area around the bite, and blood clotting problems. Nowadays, snake bite is treated with “antivenoms,” which are usually made from immunizing horses or sheep with snake venom. However, these antivenoms contain many different proteins that can themselves trigger unpleasant reactions in the recipient. One problem with developing antivenoms is that venoms contain many hundreds of different proteins, many of which may contribute to the toxic effect.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recent scientific discoveries have led to new ways of finding which parts of an animal's genetic sequence are active in any one particular part of the body, and also whether the proteins produced from these genes are likely to cause illness. A snake's venom gland, where the venom is made, can be analysed this way. The researchers wanted to use this information to develop a more rational way of designing antivenoms.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They studied the venom glands of the carpet viper (Echis ocellatus), the most medically important snake in West Africa. They isolated expressed sequence tags (ESTs) produced by the venom glands. Each EST is a small part of the active part of a gene. They then focused on one group of genes that make proteins called snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs), which destroy other proteins, and which cause many of the severe symptoms, such as bleeding, seen after snake bite. They identified seven parts of these SVMPs that were likely to be clinically important, and engineered them into a single string of DNA. This product is known as an immunogen—that is, it can produce an immune response in an animal. And when this immunogen was injected into mice, the researchers found that the serum (the part of the blood that contains antibodies) from these mice did have a specific effect against the SVMPs in snake venom. It also had some effect, again in mice, against bleeding caused by small doses of snake venom.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results suggest that it is possible to use some of the newest genetic techniques to design immunogens that can be used to make highly specific, toxin-neutralizing antisera. These immunogens are a possible improvement over conventional antivenoms that are raised against whole venom. This approach could mean that lower doses of antivenoms would be needed than for conventional antivenoms. In addition, it may also be possible to design antivenoms that work against different species of snake venom. Results such as this may persuade a company that it is worth investing further in such antivenoms; as with many diseases of the poorer parts of the world, snake bites have not been of great interest to large pharmaceutical companies. In another paper published in PLoS Medicine, José María Gutiérrez et al. discuss the global problem of snake bites.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
•  World Health Organization page on animal bites, including snakes
•  MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia pages of health information (these pages are most relevant in the US)
Seven epitopes were identified providing valuable sequence and structure/function information of viper venom hemorrhagins. This has created a new opportunity to design toxin-specific antivenoms.
PMCID: PMC1472699  PMID: 16737347
24.  Public sharing of research datasets: a pilot study of associations 
Journal of informetrics  2010;4(2):148-156.
The public sharing of primary research datasets potentially benefits the research community but is not yet common practice. In this pilot study, we analyzed whether data sharing frequency was associated with funder and publisher requirements, journal impact factor, or investigator experience and impact. Across 397 recent biomedical microarray studies, we found investigators were more likely to publicly share their raw dataset when their study was published in a high-impact journal and when the first or last authors had high levels of career experience and impact. We estimate the USA’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) data sharing policy applied to 19% of the studies in our cohort; being subject to the NIH data sharing plan requirement was not found to correlate with increased data sharing behavior in multivariate logistic regression analysis. Studies published in journals that required a database submission accession number as a condition of publication were more likely to share their data, but this trend was not statistically significant. These early results will inform our ongoing larger analysis, and hopefully contribute to the development of more effective data sharing initiatives.
PMCID: PMC3039489  PMID: 21339841
bibliometrics; bioinformatics; policy evaluation; data sharing
25.  Towards a career in bioinformatics 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10(Suppl 15):S1.
The 2009 annual conference of the Asia Pacific Bioinformatics Network (APBioNet), Asia's oldest bioinformatics organisation from 1998, was organized as the 8th International Conference on Bioinformatics (InCoB), Sept. 9-11, 2009 at Biopolis, Singapore. InCoB has actively engaged researchers from the area of life sciences, systems biology and clinicians, to facilitate greater synergy between these groups. To encourage bioinformatics students and new researchers, tutorials and student symposium, the Singapore Symposium on Computational Biology (SYMBIO) were organized, along with the Workshop on Education in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (WEBCB) and the Clinical Bioinformatics (CBAS) Symposium. However, to many students and young researchers, pursuing a career in a multi-disciplinary area such as bioinformatics poses a Himalayan challenge. A collection to tips is presented here to provide signposts on the road to a career in bioinformatics. An overview of the application of bioinformatics to traditional and emerging areas, published in this supplement, is also presented to provide possible future avenues of bioinformatics investigation. A case study on the application of e-learning tools in undergraduate bioinformatics curriculum provides information on how to go impart targeted education, to sustain bioinformatics in the Asia-Pacific region. The next InCoB is scheduled to be held in Tokyo, Japan, Sept. 26-28, 2010.
PMCID: PMC2788349  PMID: 19958508

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