The Global Biodata Coalition (GBC), an international coalition of funders, today announces the first list of Global Core Biodata Resources (GCBRs)—a collection of 37 resources whose long-term funding and sustainability is critical to life science and biomedical research worldwide. Two of these, WormBase and the Alliance of Genome Resources, are led by Caltech.
"This is a tremendous first step towards having an international contribution of effort to develop these globally-used but only locally-funded projects," says Paul Sternberg, Bren Professor of Biology. "It is also is a great validation of what we have been doing to support researchers with information."
WormBase is a Caltech-led, multi-institutional effort to make genetic information about nematodes, or roundworms, freely available to the world. As many as 1 million nematode species are thought to live on Earth, and many are pests or parasites that ravage crops and spread diseases. They also happen to share many genes that are found in humans. Therefore, the squirmy creatures are intensively researched by labs around the world.
The WormBase project began in 2000 with the original goal of creating an online knowledge-base related to the most widely studied nematode, the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. The project's website (www.wormbase.org) now hosts genomic data for more than 50 nematode species as well as vast amounts of other experimental data. About 1,200 scientific papers are added to the searchable database every year. With more than 1,000 laboratories currently registered as users, WormBase is an invaluable tool for the biomedical and agricultural research communities.
The Alliance of Genome Resources develops and maintains sustainable genome information resources that facilitate the use of diverse model organisms in understanding the genetic and genomic basis of human biology, health, and disease. This understanding is fundamental for advancing genome biology research and for translating human genome data into clinical utility. Through the implementation of a shared, modular information-system architecture, the Alliance seeks to serve diverse user communities including human geneticists who want access to all model organism data for orthologous human genes; basic-science researchers who use specific model organisms to understand fundamental biology; and computational biologists and data scientists who need access to standardized, well-structured data.
The Alliance comprises multiple databases, including FlyBase, Mouse Genome Database, Rat Genome Database, Saccharomyces Genome Database, WormBase, Xenbase, Zebrafish Information Network, and the Gene Ontology Consortium.
Caltech researchers involved in these two projects include Valerio Arnaboldi, Juancarlos Chan (BS '00), Wen Chen (PhD '00), Jae Hyoung Cho, Christian Grove, Ranjana Kishore, Raymond Lee, Nicholas Markarian, Jane Mendel, Hans-Michael Muller (PhD '99), Cecilia Nakamura, Daniela Raciti, Gary Schindelman, Kimberly Van Auken, Qinghua Wang, and Karen Yook.
"Like keystone species in an ecosystem, GCBRs represent the most crucial components or nodes within the global life science data infrastructure, whose failure would have a critical impact on the global research endeavour," says the GBC's press release. "A key property of the GCBRs is that the data they hold is available openly and can be accessed and used without restriction by researchers the world over."