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1.  LabTrove: A Lightweight, Web Based, Laboratory “Blog” as a Route towards a Marked Up Record of Work in a Bioscience Research Laboratory 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67460.
Background
The electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) has the potential to replace the paper notebook with a marked-up digital record that can be searched and shared. However, it is a challenge to achieve these benefits without losing the usability and flexibility of traditional paper notebooks. We investigate a blog-based platform that addresses the issues associated with the development of a flexible system for recording scientific research.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We chose a blog-based approach with the journal characteristics of traditional notebooks in mind, recognizing the potential for linking together procedures, materials, samples, observations, data, and analysis reports. We implemented the LabTrove blog system as a server process written in PHP, using a MySQL database to persist posts and other research objects. We incorporated a metadata framework that is both extensible and flexible while promoting consistency and structure where appropriate. Our experience thus far is that LabTrove is capable of providing a successful electronic laboratory recording system.
Conclusions/Significance
LabTrove implements a one-item one-post system, which enables us to uniquely identify each element of the research record, such as data, samples, and protocols. This unique association between a post and a research element affords advantages for monitoring the use of materials and samples and for inspecting research processes. The combination of the one-item one-post system, consistent metadata, and full-text search provides us with a much more effective record than a paper notebook. The LabTrove approach provides a route towards reconciling the tensions and challenges that lie ahead in working towards the long-term goals for ELNs. LabTrove, an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) system from the Smart Research Framework, based on a blog-type framework with full access control, facilitates the scientific experimental recording requirements for reproducibility, reuse, repurposing, and redeployment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067460
PMCID: PMC3720848  PMID: 23935832
2.  eCAT: Online electronic lab notebook for scientific research 
Background
eCAT is an electronic lab notebook (ELN) developed by Axiope Limited. It is the first online ELN, the first ELN to be developed in close collaboration with lab scientists, and the first ELN to be targeted at researchers in non-commercial institutions. eCAT was developed in response to feedback from users of a predecessor product. By late 2006 the basic concept had been clarified: a highly scalable web-based collaboration tool that possessed the basic capabilities of commercial ELNs, i.e. a permissions system, controlled sharing, an audit trail, electronic signature and search, and a front end that looked like the electronic counterpart to a paper notebook.
Results
During the development of the beta version feedback was incorporated from many groups including the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research, Uppsala University, Children's Hospital Boston, Alex Swarbrick's lab at the Garvan Institute in Sydney and Martin Spitaler at Imperial College. More than 100 individuals and groups worldwide then participated in the beta testing between September 2008 and June 2009. The generally positive response is reflected in the following quote about how one lab is making use of eCAT: "Everyone uses it as an electronic notebook, so they can compile the diverse collections of data that we generate as biologists, such as images and spreadsheets. We use to it to take minutes of meetings. We also use it to manage our common stocks of antibodies, plasmids and so on. Finally, perhaps the most important feature for us is the ability to link records, reagents and experiments."
Conclusion
By developing eCAT in close collaboration with lab scientists, Axiope has come up with a practical and easy-to-use product that meets the need of scientists to manage, store and share data online. eCAT is already being perceived as a product that labs can continue to use as their data management and sharing grows in scale and complexity.
doi:10.1186/1759-4499-1-4
PMCID: PMC2809322  PMID: 20334629
3.  Data Management in the Modern Structural Biology and Biomedical Research Environment 
Modern high-throughput structural biology laboratories produce vast amounts of raw experimental data. The traditional method of data reduction is very simple—results are summarized in peer-reviewed publications, which are hopefully published in high-impact journals. By their nature, publications include only the most important results derived from experiments that may have been performed over the course of many years. The main content of the published paper is a concise compilation of these data, an interpretation of the experimental results, and a comparison of these results with those obtained by other scientists.
Due to an avalanche of structural biology manuscripts submitted to scientific journals, in many recent cases descriptions of experimental methodology (and sometimes even experimental results) are pushed to supplementary materials that are only published online and sometimes may not be reviewed as thoroughly as the main body of a manuscript. Trouble may arise when experimental results are contradicting the results obtained by other scientists, which requires (in the best case) the reexamination of the original raw data or independent repetition of the experiment according to the published description of the experiment. There are reports that a significant fraction of experiments obtained in academic laboratories cannot be repeated in an industrial environment (Begley CG & Ellis LM, Nature 483(7391):531–3, 2012). This is not an indication of scientific fraud but rather reflects the inadequate description of experiments performed on different equipment and on biological samples that were produced with disparate methods. For that reason the goal of a modern data management system is not only the simple replacement of the laboratory notebook by an electronic one but also the creation of a sophisticated, internally consistent, scalable data management system that will combine data obtained by a variety of experiments performed by various individuals on diverse equipment. All data should be stored in a core database that can be used by custom applications to prepare internal reports, statistics, and perform other functions that are specific to the research that is pursued in a particular laboratory.
This chapter presents a general overview of the methods of data management and analysis used by structural genomics (SG) programs. In addition to a review of the existing literature on the subject, also presented is experience in the development of two SG data management systems, UniTrack and LabDB. The description is targeted to a general audience, as some technical details have been (or will be) published elsewhere. The focus is on “data management,” meaning the process of gathering, organizing, and storing data, but also briefly discussed is “data mining,” the process of analysis ideally leading to an understanding of the data. In other words, data mining is the conversion of data into information. Clearly, effective data management is a precondition for any useful data mining. If done properly, gathering details on millions of experiments on thousands of proteins and making them publicly available for analysis—even after the projects themselves have ended—may turn out to be one of the most important benefits of SG programs.
doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-0354-2_1
PMCID: PMC4086192  PMID: 24590705
Databases; Data management; Structural biology; LIMS; PSI; CSGID
4.  iLAP: a workflow-driven software for experimental protocol development, data acquisition and analysis 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10:390.
Background
In recent years, the genome biology community has expended considerable effort to confront the challenges of managing heterogeneous data in a structured and organized way and developed laboratory information management systems (LIMS) for both raw and processed data. On the other hand, electronic notebooks were developed to record and manage scientific data, and facilitate data-sharing. Software which enables both, management of large datasets and digital recording of laboratory procedures would serve a real need in laboratories using medium and high-throughput techniques.
Results
We have developed iLAP (Laboratory data management, Analysis, and Protocol development), a workflow-driven information management system specifically designed to create and manage experimental protocols, and to analyze and share laboratory data. The system combines experimental protocol development, wizard-based data acquisition, and high-throughput data analysis into a single, integrated system. We demonstrate the power and the flexibility of the platform using a microscopy case study based on a combinatorial multiple fluorescence in situ hybridization (m-FISH) protocol and 3D-image reconstruction. iLAP is freely available under the open source license AGPL from http://genome.tugraz.at/iLAP/.
Conclusion
iLAP is a flexible and versatile information management system, which has the potential to close the gap between electronic notebooks and LIMS and can therefore be of great value for a broad scientific community.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-10-390
PMCID: PMC2789074  PMID: 19941647
5.  The benefits of integrated systems for managing both samples and experimental data: An opportunity for labs in universities and government research institutions to lead the way 
Currently most biomedical labs in universities and government funded research institutions use paper lab notebooks for recording experimental data and spreadsheets for managing sample data. One consequence is that sample management and documenting experiments are viewed as separate and distinct activities, notwithstanding that samples and aliquots are an integral part of a majority of the experiments carried out by these labs.
Various drivers are pushing labs towards integrated management of sample data and experimental data. These include the ever increasing amounts of both kinds of data, the increasing adoption of online collaborative tools, changing expectations about online communication, and the increasing affordability of electronic lab notebooks and sample management software. There is now an opportunity for smaller labs, which have been slow to move from paper to electronic record keeping, to leapfrog better resourced commercial labs and lead the way in adopting the new generation of tools which permit integrated management of samples and experimental data and a range of tangible benefits to conducting research, including:
1. Fewer lost and mislabelled samples
2. Clearer visualization of relationships between samples and experiments
3. Reduction of experimental error
4. More effective search
5. Productivity gains
6. More efficient use of freezers, leading to cost reduction and enhanced sustainability
7. Improved archiving and enhanced memory at the lab and institutional levels
doi:10.1186/1759-4499-3-2
PMCID: PMC3146905  PMID: 21707999
6.  Concierge: Personal Database Software for Managing Digital Research Resources 
This article introduces a desktop application, named Concierge, for managing personal digital research resources. Using simple operations, it enables storage of various types of files and indexes them based on content descriptions. A key feature of the software is a high level of extensibility. By installing optional plug-ins, users can customize and extend the usability of the software based on their needs. In this paper, we also introduce a few optional plug-ins: literature management, electronic laboratory notebook, and XooNlps client plug-ins. XooNIps is a content management system developed to share digital research resources among neuroscience communities. It has been adopted as the standard database system in Japanese neuroinformatics projects. Concierge, therefore, offers comprehensive support from management of personal digital research resources to their sharing in open-access neuroinformatics databases such as XooNIps. This interaction between personal and open-access neuroinformatics databases is expected to enhance the dissemination of digital research resources. Concierge is developed as an open source project; Mac OS X and Windows XP versions have been released at the official site (http://concierge.sourceforge.jp).
doi:10.3389/neuro.11.005.2007
PMCID: PMC2525991  PMID: 18974800
software; resource management; resource sharing
7.  MyLabStocks: a web-application to manage molecular biology materials 
Yeast (Chichester, England)  2014;31(5):179-184.
Laboratory stocks are the hardware of research. They must be stored and managed with mimimum loss of material and information. Plasmids, oligonucleotides and strains are regularly exchanged between collaborators within and between laboratories. Managing and sharing information about every item is crucial for retrieval of reagents, for planning experiments and for reproducing past experimental results. We have developed a web-based application to manage stocks commonly used in a molecular biology laboratory. Its functionalities include user-defined privileges, visualization of plasmid maps directly from their sequence and the capacity to search items from fields of annotation or directly from a query sequence using BLAST. It is designed to handle records of plasmids, oligonucleotides, yeast strains, antibodies, pipettes and notebooks. Based on PHP/MySQL, it can easily be extended to handle other types of stocks and it can be installed on any server architecture. MyLabStocks is freely available from: https://forge.cbp.ens-lyon.fr/redmine/projects/mylabstocks under an open source licence.
doi:10.1002/yea.3008
PMCID: PMC4019915  PMID: 24643870
yeast strains; plasmids; oligonucleotides; software; laboratory management
8.  MyLabStocks: a web-application to manage molecular biology materials 
Yeast (Chichester, England)  2014;31(5):179-184.
Laboratory stocks are the hardware of research. They must be stored and managed with mimimum loss of material and information. Plasmids, oligonucleotides and strains are regularly exchanged between collaborators within and between laboratories. Managing and sharing information about every item is crucial for retrieval of reagents, for planning experiments and for reproducing past experimental results. We have developed a web-based application to manage stocks commonly used in a molecular biology laboratory. Its functionalities include user-defined privileges, visualization of plasmid maps directly from their sequence and the capacity to search items from fields of annotation or directly from a query sequence using BLAST. It is designed to handle records of plasmids, oligonucleotides, yeast strains, antibodies, pipettes and notebooks. Based on PHP/MySQL, it can easily be extended to handle other types of stocks and it can be installed on any server architecture. MyLabStocks is freely available from: https://forge.cbp.ens-lyon.fr/redmine/projects/mylabstocks under an open source licence.
doi:10.1002/yea.3008
PMCID: PMC4019915  PMID: 24643870
yeast strains; plasmids; oligonucleotides; software; laboratory management
9.  ProteinTracker: an application for managing protein production and purification 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:224.
Background
Laboratories that produce protein reagents for research and development face the challenge of deciding whether to track batch-related data using simple file based storage mechanisms (e.g. spreadsheets and notebooks), or commit the time and effort to install, configure and maintain a more complex laboratory information management system (LIMS). Managing reagent data stored in files is challenging because files are often copied, moved, and reformatted. Furthermore, there is no simple way to query the data if/when questions arise. Commercial LIMS often include additional modules that may be paid for but not actually used, and often require software expertise to truly customize them for a given environment.
Findings
This web-application allows small to medium-sized protein production groups to track data related to plasmid DNA, conditioned media samples (supes), cell lines used for expression, and purified protein information, including method of purification and quality control results. In addition, a request system was added that includes a means of prioritizing requests to help manage the high demand of protein production resources at most organizations. ProteinTracker makes extensive use of existing open-source libraries and is designed to track essential data related to the production and purification of proteins.
Conclusions
ProteinTracker is an open-source web-based application that provides organizations with the ability to track key data involved in the production and purification of proteins and may be modified to meet the specific needs of an organization. The source code and database setup script can be downloaded from http://sourceforge.net/projects/proteintracker. This site also contains installation instructions and a user guide. A demonstration version of the application can be viewed at http://www.proteintracker.org.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-224
PMCID: PMC3436699  PMID: 22574679
Protein; Production; Purification; Reagent; Tracking; Prioritization; Web; Application
10.  Molecule database framework: a framework for creating database applications with chemical structure search capability 
Background
Research in organic chemistry generates samples of novel chemicals together with their properties and other related data. The involved scientists must be able to store this data and search it by chemical structure. There are commercial solutions for common needs like chemical registration systems or electronic lab notebooks. However for specific requirements of in-house databases and processes no such solutions exist. Another issue is that commercial solutions have the risk of vendor lock-in and may require an expensive license of a proprietary relational database management system. To speed up and simplify the development for applications that require chemical structure search capabilities, I have developed Molecule Database Framework. The framework abstracts the storing and searching of chemical structures into method calls. Therefore software developers do not require extensive knowledge about chemistry and the underlying database cartridge. This decreases application development time.
Results
Molecule Database Framework is written in Java and I created it by integrating existing free and open-source tools and frameworks. The core functionality includes:
• Support for multi-component compounds (mixtures)
• Import and export of SD-files
• Optional security (authorization)
For chemical structure searching Molecule Database Framework leverages the capabilities of the Bingo Cartridge for PostgreSQL and provides type-safe searching, caching, transactions and optional method level security. Molecule Database Framework supports multi-component chemical compounds (mixtures).
Furthermore the design of entity classes and the reasoning behind it are explained. By means of a simple web application I describe how the framework could be used. I then benchmarked this example application to create some basic performance expectations for chemical structure searches and import and export of SD-files.
Conclusions
By using a simple web application it was shown that Molecule Database Framework successfully abstracts chemical structure searches and SD-File import and export to simple method calls. The framework offers good search performance on a standard laptop without any database tuning. This is also due to the fact that chemical structure searches are paged and cached. Molecule Database Framework is available for download on the projects web page on bitbucket: https://bitbucket.org/kienerj/moleculedatabaseframework.
doi:10.1186/1758-2946-5-48
PMCID: PMC3892073  PMID: 24325762
Chemical structure search; Database; Framework; Open-source
11.  First steps towards semantic descriptions of electronic laboratory notebook records 
In order to exploit the vast body of currently inaccessible chemical information held in Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELNs) it is necessary not only to make it available but also to develop protocols for discovery, access and ultimately automatic processing. An aim of the Dial-a-Molecule Grand Challenge Network is to be able to draw on the body of accumulated chemical knowledge in order to predict or optimize the outcome of reactions. Accordingly the Network drew up a working group comprising informaticians, software developers and stakeholders from industry and academia to develop protocols and mechanisms to access and process ELN records. The work presented here constitutes the first stage of this process by proposing a tiered metadata system of knowledge, information and processing where each in turn addresses a) discovery, indexing and citation b) context and access to additional information and c) content access and manipulation. A compact set of metadata terms, called the elnItemManifest, has been derived and caters for the knowledge layer of this model. The elnItemManifest has been encoded as an XML schema and some use cases are presented to demonstrate the potential of this approach.
doi:10.1186/1758-2946-5-52
PMCID: PMC3878183  PMID: 24360292
12.  Keeping Track of Interactomes Using the ProHits LIMS 
Affinity purification coupled with mass spectrometry (AP-MS) is a robust technique used to identify protein-protein interactions. With recent improvements in sample preparation, and dramatic advances in MS instrumentation speed and sensitivity, this technique is becoming more widely used throughout the scientific community. To meet the needs of research groups both large and small, we have developed software solutions for tracking, scoring and analyzing AP-MS data. Here, we provide details for the installation and utilization of ProHits, a Laboratory Information Management System designed specifically for AP-MS interaction proteomics that we distribute freely to the scientific community at ProHitsMS.com, and which is under continuous development. The complete ProHits solution1 performs scheduled backup of mass spectrometry data and initiates database searches (Mascot, X!Tandem, COMET, SEQUEST and the output from the TransProteomics Pipeline are now supported). It stores search results and enables linking the mass spectrometry data to entries in the relational database module called “Analyst”, which is also available as a stand-alone application (including as an easy-to-install virtual machine implementation2). ProHits Analyst is organized in a hierarchical manner by project, bait, experiment and sample and also serves as an electronic notebook. When a sample is created, mass spectrometry search results can be uploaded. Search results can be explored using a series of viewers, filtered based on mass spectrometry quality, frequency of detection or background lists, viewed in Cytoscape-Web or exported to text or as a PSI XML format for deposition in interaction databases. Importantly, however, search results can be further analyzed using the SAINT statistical tool which is seamlessly integrated within ProHits to derive interaction confidence scores(3-5). With the integration with a number of open source tools and public repositories, ProHits facilitates transparent analysis and reporting of AP-MS data. 1PMID:209445832PMID:229487303PMID:204890234PMID:211319685PMID:22948729
PMCID: PMC3635280
13.  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.
doi:10.1186/1751-0473-2-9
PMCID: PMC2228283  PMID: 18053179
14.  An Innovative Smartphone-Based Otorhinoendoscope and Its Application in Mobile Health and Teleotolaryngology 
Background
The traditional otorhinoendoscope is widely used in the diagnosis of a variety of ear and nose diseases, but only one doctor can use it at a time. It is also very difficult to share observations from one doctor with another doctor. With advances in electronic health technology, the extended potential application of smartphones to support medical practice or mobile health has grown steadily.
Objective
The first phase of the study discussed how smartphones may be used for otorhinoscopic imaging and image management via an innovative adaptor. The second phase of the study was to evaluate the diagnostic capability of the smartphone-based otorhinoendoscope, as compared to the traditional otorhinoendoscope, and its application in mobile health and teleotolaryngology.
Methods
We designed a unique adaptor to connect the otorhinoendoscope and smartphone in order to perform smartphone-based otorhinoendoscopy. The main aim was to transform the smartphone into an otorhinoendoscope. We devised a method that would allow us to use the smartphone’s camera to capture otorhinoscopic images. Using a freely available Web-based real-time communication application platform and the 3G (or WIFI) network, the smartphone-based otorhinoendoscope could synchronize the smartphone-based otorhinoscopic image with smartphones, tablet PCs, computer notebooks, or personal computers.
Results
We investigated the feasibility of telemedicine using a smartphone, tablet PC, and computer notebook. Six types of clinical otorhinoscopic images were acquired via the smartphone-based otorhinoendoscope from six patients, which were examined in this study. Three teleconsultants (doctors A, B, and C) reviewed the six types of clinical otorhinoscopic images and made a telediagnosis. When compared to the face-to-face diagnosis, which was made in-person via a traditional otorhinoendoscope, the three teleconsultants obtained scores of a correct primary telediagnosis 83% (5/6), 100% (6/6), and 100% (6/6) of the time, respectively. When the clinical data were provided, the three teleconsultants obtained a correct secondary telediagnosis score of 100% (6/6), 100% (6/6), and 100% (6/6) of the time, respectively.
Conclusions
The use of previously available technologies in the absence of any additional expensive devices could significantly increase the quality of diagnostics while lowering extraneous costs. Furthermore, this could also increase the connectivity between most isolated family doctors and remote referral centers.
doi:10.2196/jmir.2959
PMCID: PMC3961810  PMID: 24590187
otorhinoendoscope; smartphone; mobile health; teleotolaryngology; telediagnosis
15.  An automated and reproducible workflow for running and analyzing neural simulations using Lancet and IPython Notebook 
Lancet is a new, simulator-independent Python utility for succinctly specifying, launching, and collating results from large batches of interrelated computationally demanding program runs. This paper demonstrates how to combine Lancet with IPython Notebook to provide a flexible, lightweight, and agile workflow for fully reproducible scientific research. This informal and pragmatic approach uses IPython Notebook to capture the steps in a scientific computation as it is gradually automated and made ready for publication, without mandating the use of any separate application that can constrain scientific exploration and innovation. The resulting notebook concisely records each step involved in even very complex computational processes that led to a particular figure or numerical result, allowing the complete chain of events to be replicated automatically. Lancet was originally designed to help solve problems in computational neuroscience, such as analyzing the sensitivity of a complex simulation to various parameters, or collecting the results from multiple runs with different random starting points. However, because it is never possible to know in advance what tools might be required in future tasks, Lancet has been designed to be completely general, supporting any type of program as long as it can be launched as a process and can return output in the form of files. For instance, Lancet is also heavily used by one of the authors in a separate research group for launching batches of microprocessor simulations. This general design will allow Lancet to continue supporting a given research project even as the underlying approaches and tools change.
doi:10.3389/fninf.2013.00044
PMCID: PMC3874632  PMID: 24416014
IPython; pandas; reproducibility; workflow; simulation; batch computation; provenance; big data
16.  A novel collaborative e-learning platform for medical students - ALERT STUDENT 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:143.
Background
The increasing complexity of medical curricula would benefit from adaptive computer supported collaborative learning systems that support study management using instructional design and learning object principles. However, to our knowledge, there are scarce reports regarding applications developed to meet this goal and encompass the complete medical curriculum. The aim of ths study was to develop and assess the usability of an adaptive computer supported collaborative learning system for medical students to manage study sessions.
Results
A study platform named ALERT STUDENT was built as a free web application. Content chunks are represented as Flashcards that hold knowledge and open ended questions. These can be created in a collaborative fashion. Multiple Flashcards can be combined into custom stacks called Notebooks that can be accessed in study Groups that belong to the user institution. The system provides a Study Mode that features text markers, text notes, timers and color-coded content prioritization based on self-assessment of open ended questions presented in a Quiz Mode. Time spent studying and Perception of knowledge are displayed for each student and peers using charts. Computer supported collaborative learning is achieved by allowing for simultaneous creation of Notebooks and self-assessment questions by many users in a pre-defined Group. Past personal performance data is retrieved when studying new Notebooks containing previously studied Flashcards. Self-report surveys showed that students highly agreed that the system was useful and were willing to use it as a reference tool.
Conclusions
The platform employs various instructional design and learning object principles in a computer supported collaborative learning platform for medical students that allows for study management. The application broadens student insight over learning results and supports informed decisions based on past learning performance. It serves as a potential educational model for the medical education setting that has gathered strong positive feedback from students at our school.
This platform provides a case study on how effective blending of instructional design and learning object principles can be brought together to manage study, and takes an important step towards bringing information management tools to support study decisions and improving learning outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-143
PMCID: PMC4131539  PMID: 25017028
Medical education; Computer supported collaborative learning; E-learning; Information management; Memory retention; Computer-assisted instruction; Tailored learning; Student-centered learning; Spaced repetition
17.  Guidelines for information about therapy experiments: a proposal on best practice for recording experimental data on cancer therapy 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:10.
Background
Biology, biomedicine and healthcare have become data-driven enterprises, where scientists and clinicians need to generate, access, validate, interpret and integrate different kinds of experimental and patient-related data. Thus, recording and reporting of data in a systematic and unambiguous fashion is crucial to allow aggregation and re-use of data. This paper reviews the benefits of existing biomedical data standards and focuses on key elements to record experiments for therapy development. Specifically, we describe the experiments performed in molecular, cellular, animal and clinical models. We also provide an example set of elements for a therapy tested in a phase I clinical trial.
Findings
We introduce the Guidelines for Information About Therapy Experiments (GIATE), a minimum information checklist creating a consistent framework to transparently report the purpose, methods and results of the therapeutic experiments. A discussion on the scope, design and structure of the guidelines is presented, together with a description of the intended audience. We also present complementary resources such as a classification scheme, and two alternative ways of creating GIATE information: an electronic lab notebook and a simple spreadsheet-based format. Finally, we use GIATE to record the details of the phase I clinical trial of CHT-25 for patients with refractory lymphomas. The benefits of using GIATE for this experiment are discussed.
Conclusions
While data standards are being developed to facilitate data sharing and integration in various aspects of experimental medicine, such as genomics and clinical data, no previous work focused on therapy development. We propose a checklist for therapy experiments and demonstrate its use in the 131Iodine labeled CHT-25 chimeric antibody cancer therapy. As future work, we will expand the set of GIATE tools to continue to encourage its use by cancer researchers, and we will engineer an ontology to annotate GIATE elements and facilitate unambiguous interpretation and data integration.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-10
PMCID: PMC3285520  PMID: 22226027
18.  Head in the clouds: Re-imagining the experimental laboratory record for the web-based networked world 
The means we use to record the process of carrying out research remains tied to the concept of a paginated paper notebook despite the advances over the past decade in web based communication and publication tools. The development of these tools offers an opportunity to re-imagine what the laboratory record would look like if it were re-built in a web-native form. In this paper I describe a distributed approach to the laboratory record based which uses the most appropriate tool available to house and publish each specific object created during the research process, whether they be a physical sample, a digital data object, or the record of how one was created from another. I propose that the web-native laboratory record would act as a feed of relationships between these items. This approach can be seen as complementary to, rather than competitive with, integrative approaches that aim to aggregate relevant objects together to describe knowledge. The potential for the recent announcement of the Google Wave protocol to have a significant impact on realizing this vision is discussed along with the issues of security and provenance that are raised by such an approach.
doi:10.1186/1759-4499-1-3
PMCID: PMC2809323  PMID: 20098590
19.  MultiSeq: unifying sequence and structure data for evolutionary analysis 
BMC Bioinformatics  2006;7:382.
Background
Since the publication of the first draft of the human genome in 2000, bioinformatic data have been accumulating at an overwhelming pace. Currently, more than 3 million sequences and 35 thousand structures of proteins and nucleic acids are available in public databases. Finding correlations in and between these data to answer critical research questions is extremely challenging. This problem needs to be approached from several directions: information science to organize and search the data; information visualization to assist in recognizing correlations; mathematics to formulate statistical inferences; and biology to analyze chemical and physical properties in terms of sequence and structure changes.
Results
Here we present MultiSeq, a unified bioinformatics analysis environment that allows one to organize, display, align and analyze both sequence and structure data for proteins and nucleic acids. While special emphasis is placed on analyzing the data within the framework of evolutionary biology, the environment is also flexible enough to accommodate other usage patterns. The evolutionary approach is supported by the use of predefined metadata, adherence to standard ontological mappings, and the ability for the user to adjust these classifications using an electronic notebook. MultiSeq contains a new algorithm to generate complete evolutionary profiles that represent the topology of the molecular phylogenetic tree of a homologous group of distantly related proteins. The method, based on the multidimensional QR factorization of multiple sequence and structure alignments, removes redundancy from the alignments and orders the protein sequences by increasing linear dependence, resulting in the identification of a minimal basis set of sequences that spans the evolutionary space of the homologous group of proteins.
Conclusion
MultiSeq is a major extension of the Multiple Alignment tool that is provided as part of VMD, a structural visualization program for analyzing molecular dynamics simulations. Both are freely distributed by the NIH Resource for Macromolecular Modeling and Bioinformatics and MultiSeq is included with VMD starting with version 1.8.5. The MultiSeq website has details on how to download and use the software:
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-7-382
PMCID: PMC1586216  PMID: 16914055
20.  InChI in the wild: an assessment of InChIKey searching in Google 
While chemical databases can be queried using the InChI string and InChIKey (IK) the latter was designed for open-web searching. It is becoming increasingly effective for this since more sources enhance crawling of their websites by the Googlebot and consequent IK indexing. Searchers who use Google as an adjunct to database access may be less familiar with the advantages of using the IK as explored in this review. As an example, the IK for atorvastatin retrieves ~200 low-redundancy links from a Google search in 0.3 of a second. These include most major databases and a very low false-positive rate. Results encompass less familiar but potentially useful sources and can be extended to isomer capture by using just the skeleton layer of the IK. Google Advanced Search can be used to filter large result sets. Image searching with the IK is also effective and complementary to open-web queries. Results can be particularly useful for less-common structures as exemplified by a major metabolite of atorvastatin giving only three hits. Testing also demonstrated document-to-document and document-to-database joins via structure matching. The necessary generation of an IK from chemical names can be accomplished using open tools and resources for patents, papers, abstracts or other text sources. Active global sharing of local IK-linked information can be accomplished via surfacing in open laboratory notebooks, blogs, Twitter, figshare and other routes. While information-rich chemistry (e.g. approved drugs) can exhibit swamping and redundancy effects, the much smaller IK result sets for link-poor structures become a transformative first-pass option. The IK indexing has therefore turned Google into a de-facto open global chemical information hub by merging links to most significant sources, including over 50 million PubChem and ChemSpider records. The simplicity, specificity and speed of matching make it a useful option for biologists or others less familiar with chemical searching. However, compared to rigorously maintained major databases, users need to be circumspect about the consistency of Google results and provenance of retrieved links. In addition, community engagement may be necessary to ameliorate possible future degradation of utility.
doi:10.1186/1758-2946-5-10
PMCID: PMC3598674  PMID: 23399051
InChI; InChIKey; Databases; Google; Chemical structures; Patents; PubChem; ChemSpider
21.  Reduced inclination of cervical spine in a novel notebook screen system - implications for rehabilitation 
Background
Professional working at computer notebooks is associated with high requirements on the body posture in the seated position. By the high continuous static muscle stress resulting from this position at notebooks, professionals frequently working at notebooks for long hours are exposed to an increased risk of musculoskeletal complaints. Especially in subjects with back pain, new notebooks should be evaluated with a focus on rehabilitative issues.
Methods
In a field study a new notebook design with adjustable screen was analyzed and compared to standard notebook position.
Results
There are highly significant differences in the visual axis of individuals who are seated in the novel notebook position in comparison to the standard position. Also, differences are present between further alternative notebook positions. Testing of gender and glasses did not reveal influences.
Conclusion
This study demonstrates that notebooks with adjustable screen may be used to improve the posture. Future studies may focus on patients with musculoskeletal diseases.
doi:10.1186/1745-6673-6-30
PMCID: PMC3253038  PMID: 22118159
22.  Using tablets to support self-regulated learning in a longitudinal integrated clerkship 
Medical Education Online  2014;19:10.3402/meo.v19.23638.
Introduction
The need to train physicians committed to learning throughout their careers has prompted medical schools to encourage the development and practice of self-regulated learning by students. Longitudinal integrated clerkships (LICs) require students to exercise self-regulated learning skills. As mobile tools, tablets can potentially support self-regulation among LIC students.
Methods
We provided 15 LIC students with tablet computers with access to the electronic health record (EHR), to track their patient cohort, and a multiplatform online notebook, to support documentation and retrieval of self-identified clinical learning issues. Students received a 1-hour workshop on the relevant features of the tablet and online notebook. Two focus groups with the students were used to evaluate the program, one early and one late in the year and were coded by two raters.
Results
Students used the tablet to support their self-regulated learning in ways that were unique to their learning styles and increased access to resources and utilization of down-time. Students who used the tablet to self-monitor and target learning demonstrated the utility of tablets as learning tools.
Conclusions
LICs are environments rich in opportunity for self-regulated learning. Tablets can enhance students’ ability to develop and employ self-regulatory skills in a clinical context.
doi:10.3402/meo.v19.23638
PMCID: PMC3955768  PMID: 24646438
mobile learning; self-regulated learning; clinical learning; longitudinal integrated clerkship; workplace learning
23.  Innovative data tools: a suite for managing peer outreach to key affected populations in Viet Nam 
Problem
The paper tools used to monitor outreach work in all major cities in Viet Nam had substantial writing requirements for each contact with difficulty maintaining confidentiality.
Action
This paper describes the development of a Unique Identifier Code (UIC), a field data collection notebook (databook) and a computer data entry system in Viet Nam. The databook can document 40 individual clients and has space for commodity distribution, group contacts and needles/syringe collection for each month.
Outcome
Field implementation trials of the UIC and databook have been undertaken by more than 160 peer outreach workers to document their work with people who inject drugs (PWID) and sex workers (SW). Following an expanded trial in Hai Phong province, there have been requests for national circulation of the databook to be used by peer educators documenting outreach to PWID, SW and men who have sex with men. The standardized UIC and databook, in a variety of locally adapted formats, have now been introduced in more than 40 of the 63 provinces in Viet Nam.
Discussion
This development in Viet Nam is, to our knowledge, the first example of the combination of a confidential UIC and an innovative, simple pocket-sized paper instrument with associated customized data-entry software for documenting outreach.
doi:10.5365/WPSAR.2012.3.2.003
PMCID: PMC3731006  PMID: 23908919
24.  From documents to datasets: A MediaWiki-based method of annotating and extracting species observations in century-old field notebooks 
ZooKeys  2012;235-253.
Part diary, part scientific record, biological field notebooks often contain details necessary to understanding the location and environmental conditions existent during collecting events. Despite their clear value for (and recent use in) global change studies, the text-mining outputs from field notebooks have been idiosyncratic to specific research projects, and impossible to discover or re-use. Best practices and workflows for digitization, transcription, extraction, and integration with other sources are nascent or non-existent. In this paper, we demonstrate a workflow to generate structured outputs while also maintaining links to the original texts. The first step in this workflow was to place already digitized and transcribed field notebooks from the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History founder, Junius Henderson, on Wikisource, an open text transcription platform. Next, we created Wikisource templates to document places, dates, and taxa to facilitate annotation and wiki-linking. We then requested help from the public, through social media tools, to take advantage of volunteer efforts and energy. After three notebooks were fully annotated, content was converted into XML and annotations were extracted and cross-walked into Darwin Core compliant record sets. Finally, these recordsets were vetted, to provide valid taxon names, via a process we call “taxonomic referencing.” The result is identification and mobilization of 1,068 observations from three of Henderson’s thirteen notebooks and a publishable Darwin Core record set for use in other analyses. Although challenges remain, this work demonstrates a feasible approach to unlock observations from field notebooks that enhances their discovery and interoperability without losing the narrative context from which those observations are drawn.
“Compose your notes as if you were writing a letter to someone a century in the future.”
Perrine and Patton (2011)
doi:10.3897/zookeys.209.3247
PMCID: PMC3406479  PMID: 22859891
Field notes; notebooks; crowd sourcing; digitization; biodiversity; transcription; text-mining; Darwin Core; Junius Henderson; annotation; taxonomic referencing; natural history; Wikisource; Colorado; species occurrence records
25.  Mediators between Theoretical and Practical Medieval Knowledge: Medical Notebooks from the Cairo Genizah and their Significance 
Medical History  2013;57(4):487-515.
This article presents a plethora of fragments from the medical notebooks found in the Cairo Genizah that comprise a unique source of historical data for scholarly study and for a better understanding of the ways in which medieval medical knowledge in Egypt was transferred from theory to practice and vice versa. These documents provide the most direct evidence we have for preferred practical medical recipes because they record the choices of medical practitioners in medieval Cairo. Since the language most commonly used in them was Judaeo-Arabic, they were evidently written by Jews. The medical genre in the notebooks was primarily pharmacopoeic, consisting of apparently original recipes for the treatment of various diseases. There are also a few notebooks on materia medica. The subject matter of the Genizah medical notebooks shows that they were mostly of an eclectic nature, i.e. the writers had probably learnt about these treatments and recipes from their teachers, applied them at the hospitals where they worked or copied them from the books they read. Foremost among the subjects dealt with were eye diseases, followed by skin diseases, coughs and colds, dentistry and oral hygiene, and gynaecological conditions. The writers of the Genizah notebooks apparently recorded the practical medical knowledge they wished to preserve for their future use as amateur physicians, students, traditional healers or professional practitioners.
doi:10.1017/mdh.2013.56
PMCID: PMC3865955  PMID: 24069914
Cairo Genizah; History of Medicine; Jewish; Medieval Middle East; Middle Ages; Notebook

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