Drum roll please… Congratulations, Bibhash Mukhopadhyay, and thanks to all participants for entering.
NextBio: A versatile one-stop-shop for researchers (and a data junkie’s paradise)!
I am currently writing my doctoral dissertation on a gene involved in retinal degeneration at Baylor College of Medicine, and I have had internship experience. Both of these responsibilities involve assimilation and organization of a large amount of information to create mental snapshots that can be recalled and applied to specific contexts that I am interested in looking at. For my dissertation, I need to interpret primary research data in the context of existing literature or “knowledge base”, whereas the internship required integration of technical and clinical data for enumerating commercial utility.
While writing my dissertation, particularly for the introductory chapters, I discovered a salient utility of NextBio: the ability to cross-index references. I have benefited immensely from being able to create mental maps of research results from published papers, identify the thought-leaders in the field who produced the most referenced papers, parse the results of any of my searches with respect to organisms and tissues in which the dataset was observed, find diseases in which the gene network has been implicated, and see chemical moieties that affect components of the pathway involved. A good case-in-point of the utility of NextBio’s information engine is my decision to study the function of Kinesin-2 in the process of cellularization (a process in embryos during development of fruit-flies) as a side project of my major objective to characterize its function in photoreceptor cells. The earliest hint came while using “Data Correlations” for a query filtered by organism and expression changes that led me to an RNA expression profile, which I would have completely missed had I been searching on PubMed alone.
Another very powerful functionality of NextBio that I use very frequently is its Clinical trials information. During my internship, one of the first steps to getting started was to do a deep dive search of existing technologies and drugs in development. NextBio provides me with a “one-stop-shop” for finding clinical trials currently underway, and compounds under trial, each correlated with molecular and genomic data from research studies that led to the development phase of the drug candidate. This rapid access to a snapshot of the current state of drug development through NextBio is a great start to doing diligence on particular diseases.
Any search engine that enables such modular and “on-demand” parsing of information is a very powerful tool for any researcher. NextBio has not only provided me with the right information but has also opened new vistas of thought from the mental connections I made while browsing through results. Thus NextBio has become an integral part of my information search and visualization process.
A NextBio feature that I have not utilized to the fullest extent is the Web 2.0 type data sharing designed for collaborative projects. This interactive aspect of NextBio can be extremely powerful, especially for collaborative brainstorming and reaching out to other NextBio users to get feedback on their areas of expertise.
Stayed tuned for the appearance of the essay from our second place winner on our blog next week. – Helen Wang, Travel Grant Program Manager