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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, July 1991; 3(2)

JITF Reports Activities, Identifies Needs

The third meeting of the Joint Informatics Task Force (JITF) was held in San Francisco on March 14 and 15. Members attending were Dieter Soll (Chairman), George Bell, David Botstein, Elbert Branscomb, Nathan Goodman, Frank Olken, Sylvia Spengler, and Michael Waterman; liaison members included David Benton, James Cassatt, Steve Heller, Robert Robbins, and Keith Russell. [For a complete list of members and affiliations, see HGN 2(1), 10-11 (July 1990) and 2(2), 10 (September 1990).] Brief reports on current informatics activities were presented by NIH and DOE staff.

Goodman and Branscomb reported on activities of the JITF ad hoc subcommittee on laboratory notebook software. The subcommittee, commissioned at the second meeting of JITF, recommended conducting workshops to foster open communication of genome informatics issues and information. Possible workshop topics include laboratory data management, data sharing and data submission to public databases, and research priorities and action items for the funding agencies and their biologically oriented advisory committees.

During the general discussion, several needs were identified for future consideration:

  • Technical workshops at which operational laboratory data management software could be described and demonstrated for genome project investigators, center directors, and their information management specialists.
  • Determination of requirements for supporting data in public mapping databases and addressing issues of representing data errors and confidence estimates in the public databases.
  • Catalog of currently funded genome informatics research and development.
  • Bibliography of published genome informatics work.
  • Announcements of all genome project RFAs and RFPs in Human Genome News, as well as in the usual places of publication.

Also discussed was the need to provide guidance to grant-review panels on criteria for data management components of large-scale mapping and sequencing projects. The task force enumerated several points for evaluation of proposed data management systems, specifying the need for adequacy in these areas:

  • quality control, sample tracking, and overall project management;
  • permanence, completeness, and data storage safety;
  • data input/output rate (sufficient for the anticipated data entry and query load);
  • genomics community access;
  • data protection from unauthorized access or modification; and
  • integration with related databases.

Review panels should be advised that other issues (e.g., hardware, operating system, or database management system) are to be considered only to the extent that they influence system adequacy and economy when evaluated according to the above criteria.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to a wide-ranging discussion of methods for producing a report on the state of genome informatics for the NIH-DOE Joint Subcommittee on the Human Genome. Several broad issues were considered for inclusion in the report:

  • enabling technologies,
  • laboratory data management,
  • public databases,
  • networks and connectivity,
  • human resources development,
  • standards and guidelines, and
  • review and funding.

In general, the report will attempt to be descriptive rather than normative and to provide sufficient detail to enable readers to assess the merits of the various approaches presented. The task force expects the audience for this report to include the joint subcommittee, federal agencies involved in the genome project, current and potential genome researchers, government officials, and the interested public.

The next meeting of JITF is tentatively scheduled for mid-November.

Reported by David Benton
Assistant to the Director for Scientific Data Management

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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v3n2).

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.