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OMG Life Science Task Force Pushes Two Standards Closer to Adoption

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The Life Science Task Force of the Object Management Group moved two of its bioinformatics standards proposals closer to adoption last week at OMG’s Technical Committee meeting, said David Benton, director of intelligent information systems at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals and co-chair of the task force.

Revised versions of the bibliographic query and the macromolecular structures formats were submitted at the Orlando, Fla., meeting.

The standard for bibliographic citations would encompass newer forms of publication, such as electronically published journals, websites, and multimedia works, and would offer a common set of interfaces for distributed object implementations of bibliographic servers.

The framework for macromolecular structures would specify appropriate interfaces for representing and accessing biological macromolecular structure data and associated information, said Benton.

The group has been working on these potential standards for almost a year now, ever since the European Bioinformatics Institute first submitted the query standard in February. EBI is already implementing its bibliographic query service as part of its database.

And the macromolecular structure was provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology as part of its Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics, also initially put forward in February.

Benton said that a nearly complete implementation of the macromolecular structure standard is just about ready to run on RCSB’s Brookhaven structure database.

E-mail voting on the two standards has begun for the full OMG membership and will continue for several weeks. Assuming they pass the full vote, the next step will take place at the next technical meeting, February 26-March 2, Irvine, Calif., when the OMG board of directors will vote to adopt them as standards.

Benton also reported three initial submissions for a request for proposal on gene expression: one from EBI, one from NetGenics, and one from Rosetta Inpharmatics. The evaluation committee has been established for the submissions. Benton said that the three groups have expressed interest in merging the submissions into a single submission.

In addition, Creon Labcontrol submitted against an RFP on a laboratory equipment control interface specification, and it is expected that Advanced Chemistry Development will also submit before the next meeting. The two groups will probably work together for a joint submission at the Irvine meeting.

The Life Sciences Task Force will meet on February 27 at the Irvine meeting.

—Bernadette Toner

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