April 15, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 8)
Strong Points: Useful virus info
Weak Points: Poor organization, design
VBRC is an acronym for the Viral Bioinformatics Resource Center at the University of Alabama and the University of Victoria. Focusing on NIH/NIAID Category A, B, and C priority pathogens because they represent possible bioterrorist threats or are emerging infectious diseases, the VBRC is concerned with the Arenaviridae, Bunyaviridae, Flaviviridae, Filoviridae, Paramyxoviridae, Poxviridae, and Togaviridae viruses. The site’s collection of tools and information is a bit checkered. Clicking on the hyperlinked name of each viral family brings up references and descriptions of the viruses. Another section entitled Research Express is more useful. It contains bioinformatics tools, curated gene information, access to genome sequences, BLAST functions, and virus-specific information. I must say that I didn’t find the layout to be overly efficient, and worse, clicking on links like the VBRC Analytical Workbench brought up an annoying FLASH-based animation. Overall, this is a mixed bag.