Last week, LabBook announced strategic alliances with both IBM and scientific publisher John Wiley & Sons.
Under the terms of the agreements, LabBook will combine its desktop information retrieval, integration, mining, and visualization software with IBM’s back-end data management, data integration, and Internet infrastructure software and will also make Wiley’s scientific content available through its Genomic XML Browser.
Both deals involved equity investments in the McLean, Va.-based company. While the amounts of the equity stakes were not disclosed, Adel Mikhail, vice president of strategic development at LabBook, said that Wiley’s was “substantial.”
IBM also has a minority equity stake in protein database provider Structural Bioinformatics and a $10 million equity investment in MDS Proteomics.
“Our overall strategy has been to partner with like-minded companies that are interested in providing an excellent environment for scientists,” said Mikhail.
Mikhail said the deal with Wiley would give LabBook customers access to the company’s 300 scientific, technical, and medical journals as well as its reference works and scientific protocols and allow them to combine the information with their own empirical data. The customers’ accounts will remain with LabBook, which will share revenues with Wiley.
Under the IBM partnership, LabBook will optimize its current offerings — its Genomic XML Browser, e-LabBook, XML converters, and Ohio State University Human Genome Database — and port them to IBM’s infrastructure. LabBook will also develop future tools for IBM’s data management technology, which includes its DB2 database, DiscoveryLink data integration software, and WebSphere application server, a web-serving environment that uses XML.
IBM will also serve as the preferred supplier for hardware solutions for LabBook’s clients.
IBM is currently customizing the wrappers that DiscoveryLink uses to connect different data sources for LabBook’s products, while LabBook is writing converters to access DB2, DiscoveryLink, and WebSphere.
While LabBook’s Genomic XML Browser currently queries, manages, and visualizes heterogeneous data types, DiscoveryLink will add to this capability by providing access to multiple data sources, said Anne-Marie Derouault, director of business development and marketing at IBM Life Sciences.
“LabBook provides a front end to the solutions that IBM provides,” said Mikhail. “DiscoveryLink and DB2 can now be loaded with our Human Genome Database and be provided as a complete solution to view and mine this information using our BSML [bioinformatics sequence markup language] standard.”
Derouault noted that the partnership is in line with IBM’s commitment to support XML-based standards in the life science IT community.
Mikhail said that LabBook is porting the OSU Human Genome Database to DB2, but added that this “doesn’t preclude any other types of backend databases such as Oracle.” He added that LabBook’s browser would be the first front end application developed for DiscoveryLink.
Mikhail said the LabBook and IBM technologies could be integrated as soon as the second quarter of the year.
He noted that the company is now offering its technology to companies that offer genomic content and that it expects to make several new announcements “very soon” regarding new customers and new features in the Genomic Browser.
— JF & BT