CMS Molecular Biology Resource big aid for biological researchers

San Diego 10 January 2001The CMS Molecular Biology Resource referred to as CMS MBR is a compendium of Internet-accessible information resources, data analysis and visualisation tools, and databases for research and education in molecular biology, biotechnology, genetics, biochemistry, and bio-molecular modelling. Resources on this site are organised according to the specific function they perform or the data type they serve. This arrangement provides an intuitive and familiar interface for biological scientists, guiding them efficiently to a host of useful on-line resources.

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The resources listed in the CMS MBR include a broad range of computational tools, from sequence analysis to structure modelling, and databases, such as for DNA, genome, protein, motif, and macromolecule images, as well as information resources including molecular modelling, bio-informatics, and meetings. The CMS MBR is mirrored at seventeen sites in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

In the last decade, new areas of scientific investigation coupled with novel technologies have promoted explosive increases in new structural, sequence, and other empirical data. This data is generally deposited in major databases such as GenBank, PDB, and SwissProt, and has also driven the creation of many new lesser-known, but very valuable databases. The management and analysis of this glut of data has equally driven the development of pioneering computational applications which use a broad array of computer platforms and technology.

Whereas the World Wide Web up till now has generally facilitated access to such information resources and analytical tools, the rapid growth of the Web itself in both the quantity and quality of resources continues to pose a problem for researchers in finding the most biologically relevant and useful information sources. Typical Web search engines, which search the Web for resources based on generic keywords which have little if any relationship to the specialised biological terminology and information sought by the end-user, are often of little help to the biological scientist.

This situation has been improved by the creation of science subject-specific indices or compendia of Web resources, such as the CMS Molecular Biology Resource at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) in the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Since such compendia are generally managed by biological scientists, they are able to offer a Web interface that is visually familiar in discipline content and organisational arrangement for biological scientists and educators.

To effectively serve the research and educational communities, such Web compendia must continuously perform two fundamental tasks: provide and maintain a comprehensive selection of useful Web resources, and ensure that listed resources are accessible on-line and functioning. The former is attained by keeping abreast of new tools and resources in the discipline, and the latter by regularly checking all resources listed for Internet connectivity. Compendia which fail to accomplish these tasks only add to the wasted time biological scientists often encounter in attempting to access useful Internet resources.

To address these issues, the Web resources in the CMS MBR are regularly validated, and resources failing the validation are removed at once from the Resource. Potential new resources, submitted by the community or identified by the Resource curator who is a biological scientist, are carefully examined for content and function before being added to the Resource. This evaluation process ensures that Web resources listed in the CMS MBR appear in the appropriate functional category and perform the tasks indicated.

The CMS MBR is supported in part by the National Biomedical Computation Resource (NBCR), which is an NIH National Center for Research Resources facility, the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI), SDSC, and UCSD. For more information on molecular biology resources, you can check in at http://www.1800wheelchair.com/news/post/molecular-biology-resources-online.aspx.


Leslie Versweyveld

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