Taralyn Tan Ph.D. Curriculum Fellow Harvard Medical

Check out these websites from GEN’s Best of the Web.

The Internet is a big place; when you're looking for biotech-related websites, where should you start? At GEN's Best of the Web, of course! Every other issue, we bring you a list of biotech- and biopharma-related websites we think you, GEN reader, would find useful and/or interesting. Here is our most recent list of the Best of the Web. Enjoy!

Four stars: Excellent
Three stars: Very Good
Two stars: Good
+ Strong points
Weak points

ePosters ★★★

+ Open access, anybody can submit a poster
Small collection at the moment

Poster sessions at scientific conferences are valuable assets for the research community—they provide researchers the opportunity to share their preliminary research findings with the broader research community, which itself benefits from being able to view unpublished data. Unfortunately, in order to enjoy these poster sessions, one must actually be in attendance at the conference…that is, until the advent of ePosters.net. ePosters—self-dubbed “the online journal of scientific posters”—provides researchers an online avenue to share their posters with the larger scientific community (not just those who attended a specific conference). In addition to catering to individuals looking to submit their posters, ePosters also offers conference organizers and companies the opportunity to partner with the site and present a collection of posters in a conference- or company-specific gallery. As the site is relatively new, it houses only a limited collection of posters at the moment. However, hopefully this will quickly change as more researchers embrace the opportunity to share their science with the world.


Digital Morphology ★★★

Perhaps you’ve had the opportunity to observe animal skeletons in a museum, but you haven’t really explored skulls and skeletons until you’ve visited the website for the Digital Morphology library, part of the National Science Foundation Digital Libraries initiative. The Digital Morphology website presents a large collection of 2D and 3D visualizations of vertebrate and invertebrate structures that were collected by X-ray computed tomographic (X-ray CT) scanning. The specimen collection contains not only animals that are living today, but also extinct animals. (So here’s your chance to finally explore the skull of a Jurassic Chinese turtle!) For each specimen one will find a description of the species, information about the imaged specimen (including information about the scan), a list of relevant literature citations, and additional images (when available). Each specimen is accompanied by some combination of slice movies, surface models, skeleton-only or skeleton-with-skin 3D volume rendered movies, and dynamic cutaway image sequences, all of which are fascinating to view.


Visabl ★★★

+ Easy to view database, convenient format
Relatively new site with somewhat small collection at present

Anyone who routinely performs immunohistochemistry (IHC) is well aware of the challenge of sifting through numerous commercially available antibodies to find one that actually works for a specific application. It is time consuming to visit multiple vendor sites, search for a specific antibody, and compare the available products. To circumvent this, Visabl (the VISual AntiBody Listing) was created. The Visabl search engine and antibody database provides site visitors an easy-to-browse visual compilation of antibodies from various vendors, organized alphabetically. Users can also search the database by antibody name, host species (currently limited to only mouse or rabbit), and format (predilute or concentrate). At present the collection is small relative to the vast number of antibodies out there, but at just over 100 antibodies, it is still sizable given how recently the site was launched. In addition to the antibody database, the website also includes a regularly updated blog highlighting IHC news and updates to the database.


FRAXA Research Foundation ★★★

+ Resources for general audience and researchers

There is still no cure for Fragile X Syndrome—the most common genetically inherited cause of intellectual disabilities—despite the fact that the underlying cause (a mutation in a single gene, FMR1) has been known for over two decades. Thus, development of treatments for Fragile X remains an active area of research. The FRAXA Research Foundation website provides valuable information for researchers in the Fragile X field, including information about relevant scientific meetings, funding opportunities through the foundation, and information about available resources such as mouse models and antibodies. Additionally, the site offers information for a more general audience (including family members of patients), such as background on the syndrome (including symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment) and information about current clinical trials. The “ways to give” page is also useful for those looking to make a monetary contribution to support Fragile X research.


Epigenie ★★★★

+ Extensive resources, excellent organization

This website really is aptly named, as it seems to be able to grant any wish that an epigenetics researcher might make. A list of upcoming epigenetics conferences, as well as highlights from conferences that have already passed? Check. A comprehensive guide of validated antibodies? Your wish is Epigenie’s command. Indeed, the website is quite impressive in its scope. For people who are new to the field, there is an epigenetics “Background” page to introduce you to the subject. For experienced epigenetics researchers there are—in addition to the resources mentioned above—technical guides for common experiments, videos featuring leaders in the field, current news headlines, and a “Features” section highlighting new methods, breakthroughs, or other topics of interest to the community, and an extensive “Products” reference section. Site visitors can also sign up for a twice monthly news update to stay even more in-the-know. So be prepared to have your epigenetics research desires granted—no magic lamp required.


Pathbase ★★

+ Large image collection, provides contact information for image uploaders
 Poor site organization (e.g. navigation bar at bottom)

There are many ways to analyze the phenotype of a genetically modified mouse: behavioral analysis, gene expression levels, and tissue morphology, to name a few. Pathbase is an online resource for mouse phenotyping via histopathology, as it offers a database composed of photomicrographs and macroscopic images showing tissue lesions and other abnormalities in genetically modified mouse lines. Users can search the database by a number of parameters, such as anatomical site of the lesion, type of pathology (e.g., cell and tissue damage or developmental process abnormalities), type of genetic manipulation, mouse strain, gene, age of tissue sample, among others. Search results are displayed in a list format, with image thumbnails displayed for ease of viewing. Clicking upon a given result displays a larger image and additional information, including the ability to email the user who submitted the image. (Similarly, researchers can create an account and upload their own images to the database.)


Want more Best of the Web? Click here! Also, to suggest a website for Best of the Web, please send the URL to Taralyn Tan ([email protected]).

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