19th Annual International Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology and 10th European Conference on Computational Biology 2011 (ISMB/ECCB)
I’ve recently returned from ISMB/ECCB. It was another good conference and, as usual, was particularly well attended by colleagues from the EBI. I presented two pieces of work in the poster sessions:
1. The EMBL-EBI User Survey (co-authored by Rodrigo Lopez and Graham Cameron)
Abstract: The European Bioinformatics Institute (www.ebi.ac.uk) carried out an online survey of over 3,500 of its users throughout the world in October 2010. We wanted to identify who our users are and how they use our services, so that we can understand the way changes to our website may impact their research. We found that our users are split fairly evenly between bench and computational biologists; and for the most part, they visit our website to retrieve specific information from key databases. If we unify our look and feel and improve our navigation logic, this will help our existing users a great deal.
2. EBI Search: a New Way to Explore Biology (co-authored by Andy Jenkinson, Mickael Goujon, Ewan Birney and Graham Cameron)
Abstract: Life science researchers in all disciplines are increasingly incorporating computational approaches in their work, often accessing the vast (and freely available) resources at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). Because accessibility is our top priority, we carried out large-scale user experience analysis with a view to improving the searchability of our resources. The result is a unique, intuitive search service that makes it simpler for users to explore the data. The service, which indexes and updates more than 300 million entries a day, uses Apache Lucene as the internal search engine and REST web services to retrieve the data. ‘Biologically Aware’ search methods are based on an algorithm that identifies key relationships between biological concepts, namely between genes, gene expression profiles, proteins and 3D protein structures.
The event was also a good opportunity to meet up with former colleagues, such as Dr. Conrad Bessant and Dr. Fady Mohareb from the Bioinformatics and Chemoinformatics Group at Cranfield University, UK.