NCBI’s First Hackathon: Advanced Bioinformatic Analysis of Next-Gen Sequencing Data


This blog post is geared toward genomics professionals.

From January 5th-7th, 2015, NCBI, in conjunction with the NIH Office of Data Science, held a genomics hackathon, where genomics professionals gathered to write useful, efficient pipelines for people new to genomics.

After we announced the hackathon, over 130 qualified applicants expressed interest in attending. Four team leads chose 23 attendees from this pool, then assigned initial predefined roles and provided biological guidance for a product in one of four subject areas: DNA-Seq, RNA-Seq, Epigenomics and Metagenomics. Continue reading

NCBI RefSeq’s Antimicrobial Peptide Indexed Field: Facilitating Novel Antibiotic Discovery


This blog post is aimed toward biomedical researchers.

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections account for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year. Over the past twenty years, these difficult to treat infections have become more common. Since traditional antibiotics are ineffective in these cases, biomedical researchers are looking for alternatives. NCBI’s RefSeq project has created a new indexed field, “Protein has antimicrobial activity [prop]“, to assist in this search by retrieving useful sequence annotation showing naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides, or AMPs.

Antimicrobial peptides are naturally occurring peptides from a diverse array of species that are a part of an organism’s innate immune system. The RefSeq team recently gathered a list of over 130 human genes encoding one or more experimentally proven AMPs. These peptides are typically less than 100 amino acids and can display bactericidal, antiviral, antifungal, and even antitumor activities, with a specific AMP usually having a subset of these activities. AMPs may be a suitable alternative to traditional antibiotics because they work quickly, efficiently, and tend to have broad spectrum activity. Moreover, since they are naturally-occurring, AMPs are less likely than other compounds to be toxic to host cells or to give rise to AMP-resistant bacterial strains. Continue reading

Accessing the Hidden Kingdom: Fungal ITS Reference Sequences


This post is geared toward fungi researchers as well as RefSeq and BLAST users.

Fungi have unique characteristics that can make it difficult to identify and classify species based on morphology. To address these issues, Conrad Schoch, NCBI’s fungi taxonomist, and Barbara Robbertse, NCBI’s fungi RefSeq curator, in collaboration with outside mycology experts, are curating a set of fungal sequences from internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of the nuclear ribosomal RNA genes. This set of standard DNA sequences for fungal taxa not only addresses these difficulties in identifying and classifying fungal species by morphology, but is also essential for analyzing environmental (metagenomics) sequencing studies. The curated ITS sequences, described in a recent article in Database (PMC Free Article), all have associated specimen data and, when possible, are taken from sequences from type materials, ensuring correct species identification and tracking of name changes. This article will show you how to access these ITS sequences and search them using the specialized Targeted Loci BLAST service.

The fungal ITS sequences are a RefSeq Targeted Loci BioProject (PRJNA177353). As you may know, a BioProject is a collection of biological data related to a single initiative; in this case, the goal is to collect and curate fungal sequences from targeted loci – specific molecular markers such as protein coding or ribosomal RNA genes used for phylogenetic analysis.

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NIHMS Users: Do You Know How Often Your Paper is Being Accessed Via PMC? Here’s How to Find Out.


If you’re reading this, you probably already know that NIH and some other institutions have public access policies that require that peer-reviewed publications resulting from their funding be made available to the public. But did you know that if you complied with your funding agency’s public access policy by depositing your author manuscript in NIH’s PubMed Central (PMC) archive via the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system, you can easily obtain statistics on how frequently your paper is being accessed? Continue reading

NCBI homepage update includes action buttons, category pages


The NCBI homepage now has six prominent buttons on it: Submit, Download, Learn, Develop, Analyze, and Research. Each of these buttons leads to an action page devoted to a particular set of services.

Figure 1. The NCBI homepage. The new action buttons are outlined in red.

Figure 1. The NCBI homepage. The new action buttons are outlined in red.

We’ve also included a blue feedback button on the left side of the Download, Learn, Develop and Analyze pages so that you can tell us what you think.

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NIHMS’s new look streamlines the manuscript submission process


Today, the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system gets a new interface design, as well as updates that streamline the login and manuscript submission processes and provide relevant help information directly on each screen.

Homepage

NIHMS_New Homepage_Final

Figure 1. The new NIH Manuscript Submission system homepage.

The NIHMS sign-in routes will now be available from the homepage. Select a route based on your funding agency (1) or sign in through NCBI if you are starting a deposit on an author’s behalf (2).

The homepage also includes a graphic overview of the NIHMS process (3). You can hover over each step for more information or click “Learn More” to read the complete overview in the FAQ.

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Sequence updates in human assembly GRCh38: improving gene annotation


In an earlier blog post, we discussed how sequence updates in GRCh38, the most recent version of the human reference genome, filled in a gap in human chromosome 17 near position 21,300K and expanded the region by 500K (500,000 base pairs). In this post, we will again consider this same region, but with an emphasis now on how GRCh38 also improved the gene annotation.

"Figure

Figure 1. Annotation of a region of chromosome 17 near the KCNJ12 and KCNJ18 genes. Top panel: Annotation release 105 on GRCh37.p13 represented by a configured graphic display of sequence record NC_000017.10. Bottom panel: Annotation release 106 on assembly GRCh38 represented by a configured graphic display of sequence record NC_000017.11. New gene models are circled. 

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NCBI’s 3 Newest Medical Genetics Resources: GTR, MedGen & ClinVar


GTR_ClinVar_MedGen imageNCBI has three relatively new online resources for information about genetic tests, genetic conditions, and genetic variations:

  • The Genetic Testing Registry, or GTR – a registry of genetic tests for heritable and somatic changes in humans
  • MedGen – a medical genetics portal that focuses on information about medical conditions with a genetic component
  • ClinVar – an archival database that contains reported assertions about the relationship between genetic variations and phenotypes

This blog will provide a very brief overview of the three resources by outlining some of their content features. For a more thorough introduction to the three resources, including the types of information available in each and how to use them, we recommend viewing this approximately hour-long webinar that we conducted in June 2014.

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New SciENcv Features Allow Users To Create and Download Multiple Biosketches


NCBI’s recent update to the SciENcv feature in MyNCBI gives researchers the ability to create multiple biosketches for grants from federal agencies engaged in scientific research, allowing a more tailored and convenient approach to the grant application process.

What is SciENcv?

SciENcv (Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae) is designed to help researchers assemble an NIH biosketch by extracting information from NIH eRA Commons and PubMed. The SciENcv interagency working group includes NIH, as well as DOD, DOE, EPA, NSF, USDA and the Smithsonian. You can access SciENcv if you have a My NCBI account. My NCBI accounts are free and offer many useful features, such as saving searches, automated e-mail alerts and My Bibliography.

 Create your biosketch

Based on user suggestions, we’ve made it possible to create biosketches in three ways: from scratch, from an external source, or by duplicating an existing profile (see Figure 1). While the eRA Commons data feed is currently the only external data option, we plan on adding other external data sources in a future release of SciENcv.

Figure 1. Three ways to create your NIH biosketches in SciENcv

Figure 1. Three ways to create your NIH biosketches in SciENcv

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The Second Offering of “A Librarian’s Guide to NCBI” at NIH


NCBI, in collaboration with NLM and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine NLM Training Center (NTC) at the University of Utah, recently presented the second offering of A Librarian’s Guide to NCBI. Health Sciences Librarians from 17 universities and two federal agencies attended the five-day intensive course on the NIH campus. This second offering of the training continues to prepare health science librarians for supporting NCBI molecular databases and tools, and training patrons in the use of NCBI resources at their own institutions.

Participants and instructors from the 2014 “A Librarian’s Guide to NCBI” outside the National Library of Medicine.

Participants and instructors from the 2014 “A Librarian’s Guide to NCBI” outside of the National Library of Medicine.

As before, all the course materials are available online. Feel free to learn from them, adapt them for your own teaching, and share them with others. You can use the links below to access the updated 2014 course materials. These include the slide sets with demonstrations and practice problems.

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