Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My intro to NCBI resources

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) offered a course for librarians on Molecular Biology resources at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas last week. One of approximately 12 information professionals, I was introduced to a variety of freely available resources from NCBI and other institutions. After a concise and thorough overview of molecular biology (as our instructor said: 2 years of college bio in 2 hours), we spent an intensive 2.5 days exploring Entrez databases for genes, genomes, proteins, and structures. Our instructors were two professionals with vast knowledge of information-seeking behaviors in bioinformatics and molecular biology:

  • Dr. Ansuman Chattopadhyay, University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System, Molecular Biology Information Service
  • Dr. Kevin Messner, Miami University, Brill Science Library, Life Sciences Librarian
We conducted activities in text-based Entrez search engine as well as the sequence-based BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool). Entrez search engines, such as Entrez Gene or CoreNucleotide, to name a couple, are searched using text (e.g., MLH1 or “colon cancer”). BLAST, on the other hand, is searched using protein or nucleotide sequences within the entire database or for some individual species. Finally, we examined the three-dimensional modeling application that NCBI has developed, titled Cn3D.

At the end or the workshop, we discussed ways to promote use of these resources. It was suggested that a brief overview of what NCBI offers would be a great way to start getting the word out to students in molecular biology. I hope to offer such a workshop sometime in Spring.

No comments: