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December 01, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 21)

The Cancer Genome Atlas

  • Nice web design, detailed search parameters
  • No online browser/preview; datasets must be downloaded and e-mailed

First, I must award major points to The Cancer Genome Atlas for creating a name whose acronym reads as a DNA sequence (TCGA). Bravo! Looking beyond the acronym, The Cancer Genome Atlas is an initiative launched by the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute that aims to utilize genome analysis technologies to improve our understanding of the molecular basis of cancer. The fruits of this endeavor can be accessed through the Data Portal, which allows researchers to search and download datasets generated by the researchers with The Cancer Genome Atlas. Within the Data Portal, 10 different cancer types are represented, and visitors can choose to search either by cancer type or by genes, participants, or pathways. My biggest complaint about the site is the fact that one must download the datasets, rather than browse them online. Downloaded files must be e-mailed to the user, and they are then available on the server for 24 hours.

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