On behalf of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) convened a Model Organism Database Workshop. This workshop was designed to provide the NIH with advice and concrete recommendations on reviewing, implementing, and organizing genomic, genetic, and phenotypic databases for model organisms.
The rate at which genomic and genetic information is emerging is increasing dramatically. One consequence of this information explosion is that practicing scientists are finding it difficult to keep up with the ever-expanding literature in the areas germane to their research programs. This difficulty is exacerbated by the realization that most biological phenomena are ancient and highly conserved over long evolutionary distances and, therefore, that an understanding of these phenomena requires a perspective on related information across large taxonomic territories.
Practicing scientists are becoming increasingly dependent on biological databases as key resources in identifying information of importance to their research efforts. Numerous databases are necessary to support the various needs of the scientific community. These databases fall into several classes.
One key class that is receiving a great deal of attention is the model organism databases. Model organisms are an important tool for understanding and dissecting human disease and biological process. An increasing amount of genetic, genomic, and phenotypic information is being generated on a variety of model organism systems. Databases have been established to disseminate this information to the scientific community. Currently, there are a number of different ways to create databases, maintain them, and establish community input.
The NIH is looking for guidance in initiating a coherent plan to establish, maintain, interconnect, and evaluate these public resources. The goals of this workshop were to contribute to the development of this plan by assessment of the kinds of data that the databases should incorporate, evaluation of data acquisition strategies, identification of means of community input, establishment of review criteria for new and existing database projects, and consideration of mechanisms to develop rich sets of interconnections among these databases at a variety of biological levels.
The report from this workshop, held December 78, 1998, at the Lansdowne Conference Center in Lansdowne, Virginia, can be found on the NHLBI Web site at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/meetings/index.htm and on the NHGRI Web site at http://www.nhgri.nih.gov/About_NHGRI/ Der/modelorg_data_workshop.htm.