The Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations (MIBBI) project provides a resource for those exploring the range of extant minimum information checklists and fosters coordinated development of such checklists.
Genotyping experiments are widely used in clinical and basic research laboratories to identify associations between genetic variations and normal/abnormal phenotypes. Genotyping assay techniques vary from single genomic regions that are interrogated using PCR reactions to high throughput assays examining genome-wide sequence and structural variation. The resulting genotype data may include millions of markers of thousands of individuals, requiring various statistical, modeling or other data analysis methodologies to interpret the results. To date, there are no standards for reporting genotyping experiments. Here we present the Minimum Information about a Genotyping Experiment (MIGen) standard, defining the minimum information required for reporting genotyping experiments. MIGen standard covers experimental design, subject description, genotyping procedure, quality control and data analysis. MIGen is a registered project under MIBBI (Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations) and is being developed by an interdisciplinary group of experts in basic biomedical science, clinical science, biostatistics and bioinformatics. To accommodate the wide variety of techniques and methodologies applied in current and future genotyping experiment, MIGen leverages foundational concepts from the Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI) for the description of the various types of planned processes and implements a hierarchical document structure. The adoption of MIGen by the research community will facilitate consistent genotyping data interpretation and independent data validation. MIGen can also serve as a framework for the development of data models for capturing and storing genotyping results and experiment metadata in a structured way, to facilitate the exchange of metadata.
Much biomedical research is observational. The reporting of such research is often inadequate, which hampers the assessment of its strengths and weaknesses and of a study's generalisability. The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) Initiative developed recommendations on what should be included in an accurate and complete report of an observational study. We defined the scope of the recommendations to cover three main study designs: cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies. We convened a 2-day workshop in September 2004, with methodologists, researchers, and journal editors to draft a checklist of items. This list was subsequently revised during several meetings of the coordinating group and in e-mail discussions with the larger group of STROBE contributors, taking into account empirical evidence and methodological considerations. The workshop and the subsequent iterative process of consultation and revision resulted in a checklist of 22 items (the STROBE Statement) that relate to the title, abstract, introduction, methods, results, and discussion sections of articles. 18 items are common to all three study designs and four are specific for cohort, case-control, or cross-sectional studies. A detailed Explanation and Elaboration document is published separately and is freely available on the Web sites of PLoS Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, and Epidemiology. We hope that the STROBE Statement will contribute to improving the quality of reporting of observational studies.
This paper describes the recommendations of The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) Initiative on what should be included in an accurate and complete report of an observational study.
This meeting report summarizes the proceedings of the “eGenomics: Cataloguing our Complete Genome Collection III” workshop held September 11–13, 2006, at the National Institute for Environmental eScience (NIEeS), Cambridge, United Kingdom. This 3rd workshop of the Genomic Standards Consortium was divided into two parts. The first half of the three-day workshop was dedicated to reviewing the genomic diversity of our current and future genome and metagenome collection, and exploring linkages to a series of existing projects through formal presentations. The second half was dedicated to strategic discussions. Outcomes of the workshop include a revised “Minimum Information about a Genome Sequence” (MIGS) specification (v1.1), consensus on a variety of features to be added to the Genome Catalogue (GCat), agreement by several researchers to adopt MIGS for imminent genome publications, and an agreement by the EBI and NCBI to input their genome collections into GCat for the purpose of quantifying the amount of optional data already available (e.g., for geographic location coordinates) and working towards a single, global list of all public genomes and metagenomes.
mHealth is a term used to refer to mobile technologies such as personal digital assistants and mobile phones for healthcare. mHealth initiatives to support care and treatment of patients are emerging globally and this workshop brought together researchers, policy makers, information, communication and technology programmers, academics and civil society representatives for one and a half days synergy meeting in Kenya to review regional evidence based mHealth research for HIV care and treatment, review mHealth technologies for adherence and retention interventions in anti-retroviral therapy (ART) programs and develop a framework for scale up of evidence based mHealth interventions. The workshop was held in May 2011 in Nairobi, Kenya and was funded by the Canadian Global Health Research Initiatives (GHRI) and the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the end of the workshop participants came up with a framework to guide mHealth initiatives in the region and a plan to work together in scaling up evidence based mHealth interventions. The participants acknowledged the importance of the meeting in setting the pace for strengthening and coordinating mHealth initiatives and unanimously agreed to hold a follow up meeting after three months.
mHealth; mobile phones; anti-retroviral therapy; adherence; retention
This report, based on a workshop jointly sponsored the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Biomedical Engineering and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, examines the role and value of images as multimedia data in electronic health records (EHRs). The workshop, attended by a wide range of stakeholders, was motivated in part by the absence of image data from discussions of meaningful use of health information technology. Collectively, the workshop presenters and participants argued that images are not ancillary data and should be central to health information systems to facilitate clinical decisions and higher quality, efficiency, and safety of care. They emphasized that the imaging community has already developed standards that form the basis of interoperability. Despite the apparent value of images, workshop participants also identified challenges and barriers to their implementation within EHRs. Weighing the opportunities and challenges, workshop participants provided their perspectives on possible paths forward toward fully multimedia EHRs.
Electronic health records; medical informatics; radiology
In this paper we summarize the results of a workshop conducted to disseminate information about community-based research on the environmental health risks of exposure of farmworkers to pesticides. Community-based research is an approach that is advocated for addressing issues of environmental justice such as exposure of farmworkers to pesticides. This workshop brought together scientists, community organization members, and agency representatives to review and discuss the research methods and organizational relationships that have been successful in conducting past community research so these principles can be applied to new situations. The objectives of this workshop were to a) be a forum in which those conducting community-based research with farmworkers could share what they had learned; b) delineate the successes and barriers across different projects to further develop models and methods for conducting community-based research; and c) determine future directions and needs of farmworker community-based research for environmental justice.
This report summarizes the proceedings of the first day of the Metagenomics, Metadata and MetaAnalysis (M3) workshop held at the Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology 2010 conference. The second day, which was dedicated to the inaugural meeting of the BioSharing initiative is presented in a separate report. The Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) hosted the first day of this Special Interest Group (SIG) at ISMB to continue exploring the bottlenecks and emerging solutions for obtaining biological insights through large-scale comparative analysis of metagenomic datasets. The M3 SIG included invited and selected talks and a panel discussion at the end of the day involving the plenary speakers. Further information about the GSC and its range of activities can be found at http://gensc.org. Information about the newly established BioSharing effort can be found at http://biosharing.org/.
This report summarizes the proceedings of the “Metagenomics, Metadata and Meta-analysis” (M3) Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting held at the Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology 2009 conference. The Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) hosted this meeting to explore the bottlenecks and emerging solutions for obtaining biological insights through large-scale comparative analysis of metagenomic datasets. The M3 SIG included 16 talks, half of which were selected from submitted abstracts, a poster session and a panel discussion involving members of the GSC Board. This report summarizes this one-day SIG, attempts to identify shared themes and recapitulates community recommendations for the future of this field. The GSC will also host an M3 workshop at the Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing (PSB) in January 2010. Further information about the GSC and its range of activities can be found at http://gensc.org/.
Here we present a standard developed by the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) for reporting marker gene sequences—the minimum information about a marker gene sequence (MIMARKS). We also introduce a system for describing the environment from which a biological sample originates. The ‘environmental packages’ apply to any genome sequence of known origin and can be used in combination with MIMARKS and other GSC checklists. Finally, to establish a unified standard for describing sequence data and to provide a single point of entry for the scientific community to access and learn about GSC checklists, we present the minimum information about any (x) sequence (MIxS). Adoption of MIxS will enhance our ability to analyze natural genetic diversity documented by massive DNA sequencing efforts from myriad ecosystems in our ever-changing biosphere.
The integration of information present in many disparate biological databases represents a major challenge in biomedical research. To define the problems and needs, and to explore strategies for database integration in mouse functional genomics, we consulted the biologist user community and implemented solutions to two user-defined use-cases.
We organised workshops, meetings and used a questionnaire to identify the needs of biologist database users in mouse functional genomics. As a result, two use-cases were developed that can be used to drive future designs or extensions of mouse databases. Here, we present the use-cases and describe some initial computational solutions for them. The application for the gene-centric use-case, "MUSIG-Gen" starts from a list of gene names and collects a wide range of data types from several distributed databases in a "shopping cart"-like manner. The iterative user-driven approach is a response to strongly articulated requests from users, especially those without computational biology backgrounds. The application for the phenotype-centric use-case, "MUSIG-Phen", is based on a similar concept and starting from phenotype descriptions retrieves information for associated genes.
The use-cases created, and their prototype software implementations should help to better define biologists' needs for database integration and may serve as a starting point for future bioinformatics solutions aimed at end-user biologists.
AIRNET was a thematic network project (2002–2004) initiated to
stimulate the interaction between researchers in air pollution and health
in Europe. As part of AIRNET’s communication strategy, a standardized
workshop model was developed to organize national meetings
on air pollution and health (AIRNET network days). Emphasis was given
to tailor the national workshop information and related activities to
the specific needs of a wider range of stakeholders (e.g., policy makers, nongovernmental
organizations, industry representatives). In this
report we present an overview of the results of four workshops held in
western, northern, central/eastern, and southern regions of Europe in 2004. Overall, workshop
experiences indicated that by actively involving
participants in the planning of each meeting, AIRNET helped create
an event that addressed participants’ needs and interests. A
wide range of communication formats used to discuss air pollution and
health also helped stimulate active interaction among participants. Overall, the
national workshops held by AIRNET offered a way to improve
communication among the different stakeholders. Because a broad stakeholder
involvement in decision making can positively affect the development
of widely supported policies, such meetings should be continued
for Europe and elsewhere.
air pollution and health; communication; stakeholders; thematic network
Advances in concept recognition and natural language parsing have led to the development of various tools that enable the identification of biomedical entities and relationships between them in text. The aim of the Genotype-Phenotype-Drug Relationship Extraction from Text workshop (or GPD-Rx workshop) is to examine the current state of art and discuss the next steps for making the extraction of relationships between biomedical entities integral to the curation and knowledge management workflow in Pharmacogenomics. The workshop will focus particularly on the extraction of Genotype-Phenotype, Genotype-Drug, and Phenotype-Drug relationships that are of interest to Pharmacogenomics. Extracting and structuring such text-mined relationships is a key to support the evaluation and the validation of multiple hypotheses that emerge from high throughput translational studies spanning multiple measurement modalities. In order to advance this agenda, it is essential that existing relationship extraction methods be compared to one another and that a community wide benchmark corpus emerges; against which future methods can be compared. The workshop aims to bring together researchers working on the automatic or semi-automatic extraction of relationships between biomedical entities from research literature in order to identify the key groups interested in creating such a benchmark.
NLP; Pharmacogenomics; Entity Recognition; Event Extraction; Genotype-Phenotype-Drug Relationships
This report summarizes the proceedings of the structure mapping working group meeting of the RNA Ontology Consortium (ROC), held in Kona, Hawaii on January 8-9, 2011. The ROC hosted this workshop to facilitate collaborations among those researchers formalizing concepts in RNA, those developing RNA-related software, and those performing genome annotation and standardization. The workshop included three software presentations, extended round-table discussions, and the constitution of two new working groups, the first to address the need for better software integration and the second to discuss standardization and benchmarking of existing RNA annotation pipelines. These working groups have subsequently pursued concrete implementation of actions suggested during the discussion. Further information about the ROC and its activities can be found at http://roc.bgsu.edu/.
This report summarizes the proceedings of the one day BioSharing meeting held at the Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB) 2010 conference in Boston, MA, USA This inaugural BioSharing event was hosted by the Genomic Standards Consortium as part of its M3 & BioSharing special interest group (SIG) workshop. The BioSharing event included invited talks from a range of community leaders and a panel discussion at the end of the day. The panel session led to the formal agreement among community leaders to join together to promote cross-community knowledge exchange and collaborations. A key focus of the newly formed Biosharing community will be linking up resources to promote real-world data sharing (virtuous cycle of data) and supporting compliance with data policies through the creation of a one-stop-portal of information. Further information about the newly established BioSharing effort can be found at http://biosharing.org.
This report summarizes the proceedings of the 6th and 7th workshops of the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC), held back-to-back in 2008. GSC 6 focused on furthering the activities of GSC working groups, GSC 7 focused on outreach to the wider community. GSC 6 was held October 10-14, 2008 at the European Bioinformatics Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom and included a two-day workshop focused on the refinement of the Genomic Contextual Data Markup Language (GCDML). GSC 7 was held as the opening day of the International Congress on Metagenomics 2008 in San Diego California. Major achievements of these combined meetings included an agreement from the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Consortium (INSDC) to create a “MIGS” keyword for capturing ”Minimum Information about a Genome Sequence” compliant information within INSDC (DDBJ/EMBL /Genbank) records, launch of GCDML 1.0, MIGS compliance of the first set of “Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea” project genomes, approval of a proposal to extend MIGS to 16S rRNA sequences within a “Minimum Information about an Environmental Sequence”, finalization of plans for the GSC eJournal, “Standards in Genomic Sciences” (SIGS), and the formation of a GSC Board. Subsequently, the GSC has been awarded a Research Co-ordination Network (RCN4GSC) grant from the National Science Foundation, held the first SIGS workshop and launched the journal. The GSC will also be hosting outreach workshops at both ISMB 2009 and PSB 2010 focused on “Metagenomics, Metadata and MetaAnalysis” (M3). Further information about the GSC and its range of activities can be found at http://gensc.org, including videos of all the presentations at GSC 7.
Supported by the Office of International Affairs, National Cancer Institute (NCI), the "US-Japan Workshop on Immunological Biomarkers in Oncology" was held in March 2009. The workshop was related to a task force launched by the International Society for the Biological Therapy of Cancer (iSBTc) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to identify strategies for biomarker discovery and validation in the field of biotherapy. The effort will culminate on October 28th 2009 in the "iSBTc-FDA-NCI Workshop on Prognostic and Predictive Immunologic Biomarkers in Cancer", which will be held in Washington DC in association with the Annual Meeting. The purposes of the US-Japan workshop were a) to discuss novel approaches to enhance the discovery of predictive and/or prognostic markers in cancer immunotherapy; b) to define the state of the science in biomarker discovery and validation. The participation of Japanese and US scientists provided the opportunity to identify shared or discordant themes across the distinct immune genetic background and the diverse prevalence of disease between the two Nations.
Converging concepts were identified: enhanced knowledge of interferon-related pathways was found to be central to the understanding of immune-mediated tissue-specific destruction (TSD) of which tumor rejection is a representative facet. Although the expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) likely mediates the inflammatory process leading to tumor rejection, it is insufficient by itself and the associated mechanisms need to be identified. It is likely that adaptive immune responses play a broader role in tumor rejection than those strictly related to their antigen-specificity; likely, their primary role is to trigger an acute and tissue-specific inflammatory response at the tumor site that leads to rejection upon recruitment of additional innate and adaptive immune mechanisms.
Other candidate systemic and/or tissue-specific biomarkers were recognized that might be added to the list of known entities applicable in immunotherapy trials. The need for a systematic approach to biomarker discovery that takes advantage of powerful high-throughput technologies was recognized; it was clear from the current state of the science that immunotherapy is still in a discovery phase and only a few of the current biomarkers warrant extensive validation. It was, finally, clear that, while current technologies have almost limitless potential, inadequate study design, limited standardization and cross-validation among laboratories and suboptimal comparability of data remain major road blocks. The institution of an interactive consortium for high throughput molecular monitoring of clinical trials with voluntary participation might provide cost-effective solutions.
This report is based on the presentations and discussions at the 5th annual BCR-ABL1 positive and BCR-ABL1 negative myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) workshop, which took place immediately following the 52nd American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting in Orlando, Florida on December 7th-8th, 2011. Relevant data which was presented at the ASH meeting as well as all other recent publications were presented and discussed at the workshop. This report covers front-line therapies of BCR-ABL1-positive leukemias, in addition to addressing some topical biological, pre-clinical and clinical issues, such as new insights into genomic instability and resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), risk stratification and optimizing molecular monitoring. A report pertaining to the new therapies and other pertinent preclinical and clinical issues in the BCR-ABL1 negative MPNs is published separately.
To develop a Professional Skills Enhancement Workshop (PSEW) to assist practitioners who require skills training to maintain competency and meet new standards of practice. Participants for this workshop were identified as those pharmacists who completed the peer review assessment process and who did not meet standards of practice expectations.
The full-day workshop consists of a half-day introduction to use of clinical drug information resources and approaches to addressing practice-based questions. The second part of the workshop introduces participants to the use of structured patient-interviewing techniques to elicit information using standardized patients. Participants in the workshop completed self-assessments as well as course evaluations. Subsequent to completion of the course, participants rechallenged the peer review assessment process, a test of their clinical skills consisting of a written test of clinical knowledge and an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE), to provide objective evidence of skills acquisition.
Over 90% of participants “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the PSEW was helpful in reacquainting them with current standards of professional practice. Sixty-nine percent of participants who completed the peer review assessment rechallenge process following completion of the course were able to meet standards of practice expectations.
In developing continuous professional development programs, first identifying the needs of all practitioners is essential. The PSEW provides one model for skills training for practitioners who, for a variety of reasons, may not have maintained the expected level of competency.
continuous professional development; quality assurance; pharmacy education; pharmacy practice
The “MS in the 21st Century” initiative was established with the purpose of (1) defining how multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment and standards of care should look in the 21st century; (2) developing a minimum standard of care across the world; and (3) motivating the broad MS community to align standards of care and challenge the current treatment paradigm. The aim was to develop a consensus statement to reach and influence the broader MS community. An expert steering group from Europe and Canada—consisting of neurologists, patient advocates, a pharmacoepidemiologist/pharmacoeconomist, and representatives from national MS centers—participated in a series of workshop-driven meetings between February 2011 and 2012. After three phases of discussions, the steering group identified that the overall vision for future care of MS should be full access to personalized treatment, with reimbursement, to achieve freedom from disease. They constructed seven overall principles that support this vision: personalized care, patient engagement, commitment to research, regulatory body education and reimbursement issues, new endpoints in clinical trials, more therapy options, and MS centers of excellence. This consensus statement outlines the key aspects of the seven principles that need to be addressed. The “MS in the 21st Century Steering Group” hopes that this consensus statement acts as a call to action for healthcare providers and decision-makers to address simultaneously the overarching principles that will guide patient management in order to improve outcomes for people with MS.
Multiple sclerosis; Care; Management; Consensus statement
This report summarizes the proceedings of the 8th meeting of the Genomic Standards Consortium held at the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, CA, USA on September 9-11, 2009. This three-day workshop marked the maturing of Genomic Standards Consortium from an informal gathering of researchers interested in developing standards in the field of genomic and metagenomics to an established community with a defined governance mechanism, its own open access journal, and a family of established standards for describing genomes, metagenomes and marker studies (i.e. ribosomal RNA gene surveys). There will be increased efforts within the GSC to reach out to the wider scientific community via a range of new projects. Further information about the GSC and its activities can be found at http://gensc.org/.
New technologies are rapidly having a great impact on the development of novel rehabilitation interventions. One of the more popular of these technological advances is virtual reality. The wide range of applications of this technology, from immersive environments to tele-rehabilitation equipment and care, lends versatility to its use as a rehabilitation intervention. But increasing access to this technology requires that we further our understanding about its impact on a performer. The International Workshop on Virtual Reality in Rehabilitation (IWVR), now known as Virtual Rehabilitation 2007, is a conference that emerged from the need to discover how virtual reality could be applied to rehabilitation practice. Individuals from multiple disciplines concerned with the development, transmission, and evaluation of virtual reality as a technology applied to rehabilitation attend this meeting to share their work. In this special issue of the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation we are sharing some of the papers presented at the 2006 meeting of IWVR with the objective of offering a description of the state of the art in this research field. A perusal of these papers will provide a good cross-section of the emerging work in this area as well as inform the reader about new findings relevant to research and practice in rehabilitation.
The overall goal of the BioCreative Workshops is to promote the development of text mining and text processing tools which are useful to the communities of researchers and database curators in the biological sciences. To this end BioCreative I was held in 2004, BioCreative II in 2007, and BioCreative II.5 in 2009. Each of these workshops involved humanly annotated test data for several basic tasks in text mining applied to the biomedical literature. Participants in the workshops were invited to compete in the tasks by constructing software systems to perform the tasks automatically and were given scores based on their performance. The results of these workshops have benefited the community in several ways. They have 1) provided evidence for the most effective methods currently available to solve specific problems; 2) revealed the current state of the art for performance on those problems; 3) and provided gold standard data and results on that data by which future advances can be gauged. This special issue contains overview papers for the three tasks of BioCreative III.
The BioCreative III Workshop was held in September of 2010 and continued the tradition of a challenge evaluation on several tasks judged basic to effective text mining in biology, including a gene normalization (GN) task and two protein-protein interaction (PPI) tasks. In total the Workshop involved the work of twenty-three teams. Thirteen teams participated in the GN task which required the assignment of EntrezGene IDs to all named genes in full text papers without any species information being provided to a system. Ten teams participated in the PPI article classification task (ACT) requiring a system to classify and rank a PubMed® record as belonging to an article either having or not having “PPI relevant” information. Eight teams participated in the PPI interaction method task (IMT) where systems were given full text documents and were required to extract the experimental methods used to establish PPIs and a text segment supporting each such method. Gold standard data was compiled for each of these tasks and participants competed in developing systems to perform the tasks automatically.
BioCreative III also introduced a new interactive task (IAT), run as a demonstration task. The goal was to develop an interactive system to facilitate a user’s annotation of the unique database identifiers for all the genes appearing in an article. This task included ranking genes by importance (based preferably on the amount of described experimental information regarding genes). There was also an optional task to assist the user in finding the most relevant articles about a given gene. For BioCreative III, a user advisory group (UAG) was assembled and played an important role 1) in producing some of the gold standard annotations for the GN task, 2) in critiquing IAT systems, and 3) in providing guidance for a future more rigorous evaluation of IAT systems. Six teams participated in the IAT demonstration task and received feedback on their systems from the UAG group. Besides innovations in the GN and PPI tasks making them more realistic and practical and the introduction of the IAT task, discussions were begun on community data standards to promote interoperability and on user requirements and evaluation metrics to address utility and usability of systems.
In this paper we give a brief history of the BioCreative Workshops and how they relate to other text mining competitions in biology. This is followed by a synopsis of the three tasks GN, PPI, and IAT in BioCreative III with figures for best participant performance on the GN and PPI tasks. These results are discussed and compared with results from previous BioCreative Workshops and we conclude that the best performing systems for GN, PPI-ACT and PPI-IMT in realistic settings are not sufficient for fully automatic use. This provides evidence for the importance of interactive systems and we present our vision of how best to construct an interactive system for a GN or PPI like task in the remainder of the paper.
The quality of psychosocial assessment of children in consultations varies widely. One reason for this difference is the variability in effective mental health and communication training at undergraduate and post-qualification levels. In recognition of this problem, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in the United Kingdom have developed the Child in Mind Project that aims to meet this deficit in medical training. This paper describes the evaluation of a workshop that explored the experiences and expectations of health care professionals in the development of a training programme for doctors.
The one-day inter-professional workshop was attended by 63 participants who were invited to complete evaluation forms before and immediately after the workshop.
The results showed that the workshop was partially successful in providing an opportunity for an inter-professional group to exchange ideas and influence the development of a significant project. Exploring the content and process of the proposed training programme and the opportunity for participants to share experiences of effective practice were valued. Participants identified that the current culture within many health care settings would be an obstacle to successful implementation of a training programme. Working within existing training structures will be essential. Areas for improvement in the workshop included clearer statement of goals at the outset and a more suitable environment for the numbers of participants.
The participants made a valuable contribution to the development of the training programme identifying specific challenges. Inter-professional collaborations are likely to result in more deliverable and relevant training programmes. Continued consultation with potential users of the programme – both trainers and trainees will be essential.
Tissue Microarrays (TMAs) allow researchers to examine hundreds of small tissue samples on a single glass slide. The information held in a single TMA slide may easily involve Gigabytes of data. To benefit from TMA technology, the scientific community needs an open source TMA data exchange specification that will convey all of the data in a TMA experiment in a format that is understandable to both humans and computers. A data exchange specification for TMAs allows researchers to submit their data to journals and to public data repositories and to share or merge data from different laboratories. In May 2001, the Association of Pathology Informatics (API) hosted the first in a series of four workshops, co-sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, to develop an open, community-supported TMA data exchange specification.
A draft tissue microarray data exchange specification was developed through workshop meetings. The first workshop confirmed community support for the effort and urged the creation of an open XML-based specification. This was to evolve in steps with approval for each step coming from the stakeholders in the user community during open workshops. By the fourth workshop, held October, 2002, a set of Common Data Elements (CDEs) was established as well as a basic strategy for organizing TMA data in self-describing XML documents.
The TMA data exchange specification is a well-formed XML document with four required sections: 1) Header, containing the specification Dublin Core identifiers, 2) Block, describing the paraffin-embedded array of tissues, 3)Slide, describing the glass slides produced from the Block, and 4) Core, containing all data related to the individual tissue samples contained in the array. Eighty CDEs, conforming to the ISO-11179 specification for data elements constitute XML tags used in the TMA data exchange specification. A set of six simple semantic rules describe the complete data exchange specification. Anyone using the data exchange specification can validate their TMA files using a software implementation written in Perl and distributed as a supplemental file with this publication.
The TMA data exchange specification is now available in a draft form with community-approved Common Data Elements and a community-approved general file format and data structure. The specification can be freely used by the scientific community. Efforts sponsored by the Association for Pathology Informatics to refine the draft TMA data exchange specification are expected to continue for at least two more years. The interested public is invited to participate in these open efforts. Information on future workshops will be posted at (API we site).