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A Long Way from Ms. Pacman

Researchers at Wellesley College are looking to make genome browsing a bit more interactive. The group has developed a tabletop-based genome browser with a touch interface that allows multiple users to simultaneously explore genomic data.

The group describes the system, called G-nome Surfer, in a recent paper in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. A video demo is available here.

It's cool, but is it useful? Mary at the OpenHelix Blog agrees with the developers' claim that researchers need better ways to interact with bioinformatics tools. However, "I guess I'm just not clear on how making them horizontal really lowers the barriers," she says.

"One of the things they claim to want to solve is 'Alleviating Data Explosion' and the problems of so much information that we are all facing. But I’m not convinced this gets us closer to that."

Nevertheless, she's "glad someone has attempted to look at usability and effectiveness of interfaces – that has been really lacking in this field for a long time, and it's not easy to do."

And even if G-nome Surfer doesn't prove more useful that traditional genome browsers, Mary has an alternative application: "I think it's time to open a bar in Kendall Square with these — a few beers with the genome geeks and a few of these tables would be fun for after work gatherings."

The Scan

Support for Moderna Booster

An FDA advisory committee supports authorizing a booster for Moderna's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, CNN reports.

Testing at UK Lab Suspended

SARS-CoV-2 testing at a UK lab has been suspended following a number of false negative results.

J&J CSO to Step Down

The Wall Street Journal reports that Paul Stoffels will be stepping down as chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson by the end of the year.

Science Papers Present Proteo-Genomic Map of Human Health, Brain Tumor Target, Tool to Infer CNVs

In Science this week: gene-protein-disease map, epigenomic and transcriptomic approach highlights potential therapeutic target for gliomas, and more