GenBank Curator Program

Paul Gilna pgil%histone at LANL.GOV
Mon Aug 13 09:46:04 EST 1990

Roy Smith (roy at writes:

>	I wonder if it should really be necessary to travel to Los Alamos
> to do the work.  The whole idea of building NSFNet, NREN, etc, is to bring
> data and computing resources to people, not the other way around..  Private
> email with Paul (between the first abortive posting and this one) has
> caused me to mellow my original position, to the point where I agree that
> an introductory in-person get together is A Good Thing, but I still feel
> that it should be possible to do most of the work remotely.  Of course, I
> understand the scenery in New Mexico is pretty nice, and you can't really
> get that through a T1 wire.

The goal of the curator program is to enable exactly this--remote
access to the database by a curatorial team of scientists, using system
independant annotation tools running either on a local hardware
platform, or remotely on the GenBank database host.

I would emphasize that we are in the pilot phase of this program, and
as such are treading carefully, so that we may allow and adjust for the
need to be flexible in the implementation of the program. For those
involved in biological curation, there is a fair amount of training in
the annotation tools (the Annotators Workbench, our interface to the
RDBMS), and in our editorial standards and policies. For those involved
in software module development for the SVS (the sequence validation
suite), there is a need to familiarize oneself with the design features
of the RDBMS, that cannot (at this stage) be accomplished remotely.

Early feedback in the program suggested that scientists might be more
comfortable with performing the work in a discrete "chunk" of their
time, rather than drawn out over time, where more conflicts were likely
to occur, hence the emphasis on on-site work. We do not see this policy
as dogma however, and recognize that in the full program, a family of
interaction modes will likely prevail over any single design.

We have already had some favourable reaction from the community, and I
would encourage continued comments (public or private) on this
program.  We are very excited about the possibilities and impact on the
database that will come from this endeavour.

Finally, I cannot but concur with the perception that New Mexico is
"pretty nice" (masterly use of the understatement here, Roy!); what
more could one ask than for good science, good scenery, and good food?



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