Assembling vertebrate genomes from short reads

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Next generation sequencing (NGS) has heralded a new era in genomics, as the output of sequence data is now readily available for a cost that is five orders of magnitude cheaper than when the first human genome sequence was released. But one limitation of the data produced by the new sequencing technologies is that they are harder to assemble into a single contiguous sequence representing an entire chromosome, due to the short lengths of their reads and the relatively high error rates in identifying each base.

In a new article published in the March issue of Genome Biology, researchers from the The Genome Center at the Washington University School of Medicine wondered …

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BioMed Central journals rated highly in latest SCImago journal rankings

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The 2009
journal rankings were recently published by SCImago, and established BioMed Central journals
continue to rank highly in their fields. In addition, a number of recently launched BioMed Central  journals appear in the rankings for the first time.

The SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) is a measure of a journal’s impact, influence or
prestige with citation data from Scopus. Unlike the Thomson Reuters impact factor, the SJR weights citations depending on how highly cited the journal is the journal in which the citing article appears, using a variation of the Google PageRank algorithm. The SJR for a given year is based on documents published in the selected journal in the previous three years. Full …

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Irish Veterinary Journal goes open access with BioMed Central

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Irish Veterinary Journal, the official journal of Veterinary Ireland, has published its first open access articles today. Irish Veterinary Journal has been publishing for 65 years and has recently transferred over to BioMed Central to begin a new open access chapter in its history. For more details on the journal’s developments over the years, please do read the launch Editorial.

Led by Editor-in-Chief Professor Michael Doherty, the journal publishes articles on all aspects of veterinary research involving both domestic and wild species of animals, with a special emphasis on the Irish veterinary community. Irish Veterinary Journal joins BioMed Central’s rapidly growing cluster of veterinary journals, including the newly re-launched Veterinary Research that commenced open access publishing …

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World Autism Awareness Day

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In
2007 the United Nations General Assembly declared 2 April as World
Autism Awareness Day
(WAAD) in perpetuity and this year sees the fourth
annual celebration of this event. This UN resolution is one of only three
official disease-specific United Nations Days and brings the world’s attention
to autism, a pervasive disorder that affects tens of millions.

WAAD puts the spotlight on autism as a growing global health crisis and it’s
activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of the autism
epidemic and impart information regarding the importance of early
diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique
talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals
with autism are warmly welcomed and …

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How do practitioners interpret systematic reviews?

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A study published in BMC Medicine this week by Lai and colleagues sought to determine how well hospital staff and medical students were able to interpret systematic reviews (SRs), and also to what extent they were influenced by their prior beliefs and the direction (i.e. beneficial or not) of the study results.

SRs are reviews that are focussed on a specific research question that aim to synthesize data from current evidence into a single source of reference. They are widely accepted as the most reliable source of clinical evidence, especially regarding information on potential therapies.  Therefore, they are an attractive source of information for evidence based medicine (EBM) practitioners, such as clinicians, who often require ‘quick …

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One step closer to a diagnostic test for schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe psychotic disorder that affects around 1% of the population. There is currently no physical or clinical test that can diagnose schizophrenia, and the condition is usually recognized and treated on the basis of patient symptoms. A new study performed by Matej Orešič and colleagues from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland reveals metabolic abnormalities that are associated specifically with schizophrenia, compared with other psychotic disorders. These findings, which were published in Genome Medicine this week, might be an important step towards the development of a clinical diagnostic test for schizophrenia.

The team used metabolomics, a high-throughput method for detecting small metabolites, to produce profiles of the serum metabolites associated with schizophrenia, …

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BMC Medicine Q&A with Prof. George P. Chrousos

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George P. Chrousos is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Athens University Medical School, and was recently appointed to the Chair in Technology and Society in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress; he is one of the most prestigious researchers working in the endocrinology field. In his role as Editorial Board member for BMC Medicine, Professor Chrousos recently took part in a Q & A article, focusing on recent calls to rename the rare genetic condition Primary Generalized Glucocorticoid Resistance as ‘Chrousos syndrome’ in recognition of his ground-breaking work in the field.

Discussing topics including the biological processes underlying this condition, the impact …

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Arthritis Research & Therapy launches new autoimmune review series

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Autoimmune diseases affect more than 50 million people
in the USA alone and are estimated
to be among the ten leading causes of death among women under the age of 65.
 They occur when an overactive immune system
mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue, thus leading to
chronic inflammatory conditions.

Coinciding with National Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month, which aims to support the education, awareness and research funding
for autoimmune disorders, Arthritis
Research & Therapy
has published the
first six articles in a new review collection on the Autoimmune Basis of Rheumatic Diseases.  This comprehensive series, written and edited by renowned
experts in the field, aims to provide an in-depth discussion of recent
developments in the …

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Shortlist announced for BioMed Central’s 5th annual Research Awards

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 Our annual Research Awards recognize the excellence in research published across our journals in the past year. 

Shortlists for the Biology, Medicine and Open Data Award’s have now been announce:

Biology Award 

Sir Tim Hunt, Principal Scientist at Cancer Research UK, Prof Laurence Hurst, of University of Bath and Michaela Torkar, Editorial Director at BioMed Central nominated the following:

• The first metazoa living in permanently anoxic conditions, BMC Biology 2010, 8:30 
• Evolution of an adenocarcinoma in response to selection by targeted kinase inhibitors, Genome Biology 2010, 11:R82
• A comprehensive fate map by intracellular injection of identified blastomeres in the marine polychaete Capitella teleta, EvoDevo 2010, 1:8
• What the hyena’s laugh tells: Sex, age, dominance and individual signature in the giggling call of Crocuta crocuta, …

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The International Human Microbiome Congress 2011

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The International Human Microbiome Congress 2011 held in Vancouver this month could only have taken place in this era of next generation sequencing technologies. The microbiome, consisting of the microbial communities present at different body sites, is difficult to culture. Thus the ability to sequence directly either the genomes or the uniquely identifying 16S rDNA sequence of these colonies resulted in the interesting presentation of the ecological communities that exist within us both in health and disease.

With such large datasets, the need for standards in collecting and analyzing them was discussed in several talks. Owen White (University of Maryland) called for the ease of data sharing and analysis of these large metagenomic datasets, and Mani Arumugam (EMBL) discussed …

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