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VizX, Partners Launch Website For Array Informatics Advice

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VizX Labs, a Seattle-based bioinformatics company, together with several commercial and academic partners this week launched a free web resource that the group hopes will serve as a "how to" for researchers getting into microarray data analysis, according to a VizX official.

Eric Olson, director of science at VizX, said that the website, www.MicroarraySuccess.com, went live this week. The basis for the resource, which is centered around a tutorial called "Seven Keys to Successful Microarray Data Analysis," is to enable researchers to critically think through their experiments before performing them, he said.

"The general idea [for the site] came from our experience for the last three or four years, dealing with people using microarrays and trying to identify what are the things that make people successful in their use," Olson told BioArray News last week.

"One of the main reasons people have struggled with this technology is that they tended to address [issues] independently," Olson said. "This has led to a situation where you have many, many researchers sitting on a pile of data where they can't get their answers or information out of it."

To help guide researchers through the process of designing a successful experiment, Olson recommended that researchers take "the whole process into consideration" — which is why the seven keys outlined in the tutorial are useful, he said. "Decisions made in the initial step are going to affect choices made downstream," he added.

VizX, which took the lead in developing the resource, said it contains an explanation of the seven keys, a bibliography of useful websites and published papers, and case studies showing how each of the keys can be applied to microarray analysis.

Commercial and academic partners have agreed to sponsor the resource, including ArrayIt manufacturer Telechem International, expression profiling service Genome Explorations, and the University of Washington Health Sciences Library, which will use the resource to educate faculty about microarray research. Other partners have agreed to sponsor or use the resource, VizX said in a statement.

The seven keys begin with experimental design, continue on to platform selection, and then to the choice of a data-management method. Later steps include optimizing "system access," determining differential expression, assessing biological significance, and, finally, publishing the data results in public databases.

According to Olson, while some of these guidelines may be familiar to researchers, others have been de-emphasized in the past but are just as important.

"A lot of them — like the differential expression and the biological significance — almost all the emphasis had been placed on those particular aspects, whereas things like system access — both physical access to data as well as usability -have not have really not even been considered as part of the equation," Olson said.

Olson said that the tutorial stresses how each of these steps influence the others, rather than presenting them as independent processes.

— Justin Petrone ([email protected])

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