The Tasmanian Devil 2: The tumor and Tasmanian devil mitochondrial genomes

The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), the last remaining large marsupial carnivore, now faces extinction because of a strange and deadly infection, a transmissible cancer known as Transmissible Devil Facial Tumor Disease (TDFTD).  In a previous NCBI Insights post, we discussed gene expression data from the tumors that established their neural origin and showed the tumors were likely derived from Schwann cells.  In this post, we’ll consider some of the genome sequencing projects in the NCBI databases and explore evidence that the tumor originated in a different individual than the affected animal supporting the idea that the tumor cells themselves are infectious agents. Continue reading

NCBI’s Genome Remapping Service assists in the transition to the new human genome reference assembly (GRCh38)

In late December 2013, the Genome Reference Consortium (GRC) released an updated version of the human reference genome assembly, GRCh38, and submitted these new sequences to GenBank. This is the first time in four years that a new major version of the human genome has become available to the genomics community.

Perhaps you’ve been working on data mapped to the previous assembly (GRCh37) that became available in March 2009, or maybe you are still using an even earlier version, such as NCBI36 from March 2006. Is there a way to reduce the amount of time and effort required to reanalyze your data in the context of the new assembly?

Yes! It’s NCBI’s Genome Remapping Service, or NCBI Remap for short.

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A Librarian’s Guide to NCBI — an intensive training course for medical librarians to be offered April 2014

The NCBI in partnership with the National Library of Medicine Training Center (NTC) will offer the Librarian’s Guide to NCBI course on the NIH campus in April 2014. This will be the second presentation of the course; it was previously offered in the spring of 2013 (NCBI Insights April 11 and May 6, 2013). After the course, we will post lecture slides and hands-on practical exercises on the education area of the NCBI FTP site and video tutorials of the course lectures will be available on the NCBI YouTube channel. Materials from the 2013 course are available, as well as lecture videos for the expression module.
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Introducing the New Human Genome Assembly: GRCh38

This month marks a major event in the realm of human genome research: the release of a new assembly of the genome, GRCh38. It has been over four years since the last major release (GRCh37 in March 2009), and we are going to explore several aspects of this new assembly in a series of blog posts over the coming weeks. In this initial post, we will give an overview of the data flow so that you will understand how NCBI received the data, where the data are at NCBI and what genome annotations you can expect from NCBI in the near future.
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Making Custom Databases for Web BLAST

An easy way to speed up your BLAST analysis is to search a smaller database targeted to sequences of interest. We’ll describe here a few ways to create such custom databases on the BLAST web pages.  For this Quick Tip we’ll use the pages in the Basic BLAST section of the BLAST home page.

BLAST parent databases

Generating a custom database begins with selecting the appropriate parent database. The BLAST Guide provides database descriptions to help with choosing a database.  You select the parent in the Database pull-down menu, shown in Figure 1. Selecting the database is really your first opportunity to customize.

BLAST Parent Database Pull-down Menu

Figure 1. The database selection pull-down lists: top panel, nucleotide databases; bottom panel, protein databases

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Setting Up Automatic NCBI Searches and New Record Alerts

Do you regularly perform PubMed searches to find new articles on your topic of interest?

Would you like to know when new sequence records become available for your gene?

Is it important to be alerted when new bioactivity assays are available with inhibitor data for your enzyme?

With a free My NCBI account, you can easily set up a series of e-mail alerts to notify you of such new information. You can read more about the many other functions of My NCBI.

Here’s how to set up these alerts:

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NCBI’s 25th Anniversary and The Jim Gray eScience Award

November 2013 marks 25 years since the founding of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

Cardin Congressional Record Statement

In honor of NCBI’s 25th anniversary, United States Senator Ben Cardin read a statement into the Congressional Record recognizing years of service in providing access to biomedical and genomic information to enhance the world’s science and health.

On November 1st an awards and recognition program was held on the NIH Campus in Bethesda, Maryland to commemorate this occasion.

Presentation of the Jim Gray eScience Award

Tony Hey, Ph.D., Vice President of Microsoft Research, presenting the Jim Gray eScience award to David Lipman, M.D., Director of the NCBI.

At this event, Tony Hey, PhD, Vice President of Microsoft Research, presented NCBI Director David Lipman, MD, with the Jim Gray eScience Award which recognizes researchers who have made outstanding contributions to the field of data-intensive computing in the pursuit of open, supportive, and collaborative research models. Continue reading

Early Developments in the PubMed Commons Pilot

It’s been an exciting and productive time since the PubMed Commons beta launch. We’ve learned a great deal, both here working under the hood and from the conversations in social media and blog posts.

We are working on answers to questions that people are asking, via our Twitter account and by revising and expanding information on the PubMed Commons page soon. And we will try out a Twitter chat: so keep your eye out on @PubMedCommons for the announcement.

There are now about 1,000 people signed up in the Commons. Remember, any author in PubMed can join, from anywhere in the world. Check out our step-by-step guide. Once you are in, you can invite others. So please spread the word!

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Joining PubMed Commons: A Step-by-step Guide

In our previous post we wrote about a new service called PubMed Commons that allows researchers to add comments to individual PubMed records. As we described in that post, PubMed Commons is currently a beta pilot release, and requires interested people to join the system before they can view or add comments. This post will describe how to join PubMed Commons.

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PubMed Commons: A New Forum for Scientific Discourse

NCBI has released a pilot version of a new service in PubMed that allows researchers to post comments on individual PubMed abstracts. Called PubMed Commons, this service is an initiative of the NIH leadership in response to repeated requests by the scientific community for such a forum to be part of PubMed. We hope that PubMed Commons will leverage the social power of the internet to encourage constructive criticism and high quality discussions of scientific issues that will both enhance understanding and provide new avenues of collaboration within the community.

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