A recent alliance between Biobase, its US distributor, Cognia, and the Harvard Medical School offers several HMS research laboratories free access to Biobase’s bioinformatics tools. The labs, in turn, will provide feedback to Biobase and Cognia about the usefulness of the products.
The HMS labs of Kevin Struhl, George Church, and Fred Winston will have access to Biobase’s Transfac transcription regulation database and Match search tool for two years with options of prolongation.
“Having real time interaction with these leading gene regulation research labs will help us maintain cutting-edge content, functionality, and usability of our gene regulation database products,” said David Rubin, CEO of Cognia.
Rubin said that Cognia is creating its own databases and tools in the area of protein regulation that will serve as a complement to Biobase’s gene regulation products.
“This cooperative strategy with academic institutes is a business model that is pretty new and reflects the fact that knowledge — in whatever form — has a high value and can be considered as some sort of ‘payment’ in scientific currency,” added Holger Karas, a Biobase spokesman.
Transfac is the first of several planned products in the Harvard Medical School arrangement, Rubin said.
Harvard’s Research Computing Center is providing the infrastructure to make the database available to the research labs. Bob Freeman, director of the center, said Biobase and Cognia expect feedback on usage statistics, workflow, interface capabilities, and other factors.
Freeman said that publicly available databases that offer similar information are often out of date or difficult to access, “so by providing them locally, we are guaranteeing access to our researchers here for their daily work.”
Under the contract, Biobase has guaranteed quarterly updates of its Transfac database for the HMS researchers.
Seven researchers have participated in the testing so far, Freeman said. Preliminary reviews are “mixed,” he said. “Generally, everyone has been very positive about a lot of the information they’ve gotten from it.” Negative comments mostly concerned interface issues, he said.