GigaScience, Giga-database and now GigaBlog: new resources for the big-data community

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Guest blog post by the editors of GigaScience, which is now accepting submissions. This post has also been published on the GigaScience journal blog. As well as the journal website and blog you can also follow @GigaScience on Twitter.

As biological data is now produced faster than it can easily be handled and stored, the dissemination of this data has become a major bottleneck. GigaScience: a new type of journal from BioMed Central and BGI — no stranger to these issues being the world’s largest Genomics center — starts taking submissions today with the goal of addressing many of the issues surrounding “big-data”. Much of the rationale and features of the GigaScience journal and its associated database is presented …

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The first Chinese Rhesus macaque genome

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The Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is an Asian monkey that shares 93% of its DNA sequence with humans and, due to this similarity, is an important species for scientific study. Until now, work on the Rhesus macaque has largely focused on the Indian subspecies, but an article published in Genome Biology reports, for the first time, the genome sequence of a Chinese Rhesus macaque.

In the article, researchers from the BGI (China's premier genomics institute) and the Kunming Institute of Zoology identify millions of DNA sequence variations between the Indian and Chinese Rhesus macaque genomes, including 5.5 million one letter variations known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. A website to enable browsing of these SNPs …

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Treating rheumatic patients with comorbid conditions: unravelling the complexity

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Is it safe to use immunosuppressive drugs to treat a rheumatic patient with a past malignancy? How do rheumatic disease and kidney disease affect each other even when they are unrelated?  How should the increased risk of cardiovascular disease be managed in the treatment of lupus? These are just some of the clinical questions addressed in a new review series, Comorbid conditions in subjects with rheumatic diseases, published in Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Edited by Daniel Aletaha (Medical University of Vienna, Austria) and Thomas Dörner (Charite Humboldt University, Germany), this collection of review articles and accompanying editorial provide a comprehensive update on the challenges of dealing with comorbid conditions in rheumatic diseases, with the aim …

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More than one hundred BioMed Central journals now have impact factors

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The 2010 edition of Thomson Reuters’ Journal Citation Reports, released on June 28th 2011, provides further evidence that open access journals are delivering not only high visibility but also high rates of citation and impact.

Altogether, 101 BioMed Central journals now have official impact factors. 21 journals recorded their first impact factors this year. Meanwhile, among the 80 journals which already had impact factors, 53 increased while only 27 declined. The average change in impact factor was an increase of 0.20 points.

Some highlights:

BMC Medicine (IF 5.75) saw a huge jump in its impact factor and is now in the top 10% of journals in the General Medicine category
Retrovirology (IF 5.24), is now 4th of 32 in the Virology category, overtaking …

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Join BioMed Central at ISMB/ECCB

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Come and visit BioMed Central
at the upcoming 19thAnnual International Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology and 10th European Conference on
Computational Biology (ISMB/ECCB 2011)
, in Vienna 17 – 19 July, where we will be exhibiting at booth #11 right next door to our
colleagues from Springer in booth #12. Drop by the booth to catch up on the
latest news from BioMed Central and grab some giveaways.

The biannual ISMB/ECCB
conference is the largest conference on computational biology and brings
together the most influential figures in the field. The bioinformatics and
systems biology communities are continuing to support open access publishing
and as a result BioMed Central’s journal portfolio is growing. The conference
is …

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Linking diet and hormone exposure to breast cancer risk

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One-and-a-half million people worldwide were diagnosed with breast cancer last
year. In the UK, it is the most common form of cancer. Many studies have tried
to find the regions of the
genome that are associated with breast cancer risk, yet so far only a small
proportion of inherited cancers can be explained. A report
in the latest issue of Genome Medicine
identifies two genomic regions linked to breast cancer risk.

Ross
Prentice
and colleagues
from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, combined environmental information (such
as diet and history of hormone treatment) with genotype information for breast
cancer, both obtained from the Women’s Health Initiative
(WHI) clinical trial. They found that, by taking …

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Optimizing patient participation in genetic research

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Genetic and medical research projects often rely on the
donation of blood or tissue samples from human subjects. Optimum recruitment of
willing participants is thereby a key consideration in research. In a
recent study published in Genome Medicine,
David Lanfear and colleagues show that the site of enrollment can influence rates of patient participation in genetic research. This finding
could inform future recruitment strategies and improve research quality.

As genetic research becomes more commonplace, a growing
concern is the relatively low numbers of patient participants compared with
non-genetic studies, which could increase the potential for selection
biases. Lanfear et al. examined a host of socio-demographic and clinical variables, in addition to site of
recruitment, to determine …

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EPSRC joins other major funding agencies with new open access policy

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Earlier this month, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) announced its ‘Policy on Access to Research Outputs’, stating that all EPSRC-funded research must be published as open access (OA) documents. From September 1st 2011, all research must be published as either ‘Gold’ or ‘Green’ OA with the decision resting with the author.

EPSRC joins numerous major funding agencies, such as the Wellcome Trust, NIH and NSF, in adopting an OA mandate. This policy has been adopted “in recognition of the need for increased availability and
accessibility of publicly funded research findings.” Further information is available on their
website
.

Drug eluting stents have no advantage over bare metal stents

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Heart failure is one of the biggest killers in the developed world and is commonly caused by blockages to the arteries of the heart. These blockages can result from genetic factors, obesity, or lifestyle factors such as smoking. Surgery can be performed to widen or unblock the blood vessel, at which time a stent, which is a tube-like mesh structure, can be used to hold the artery open and allow unrestricted blood flow. There are two main types of stent used in coronary arteries: drug eluting and bare metal stents. Whereas the bare metal stents do not have a coating, the drug eluting stents slowly release a drug, such as Taxol, that blocks cell proliferation with the aim …

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Sad loss of an eminent Editor

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Professor
Barbara Starfield, co-Editor-in-Chief of International Journal for Equity in Health
and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public
Health, died suddenly on Friday 10 June 2011. Her death comes as a huge loss to the
field
of primary health care and health policy, in which she is considered one of the
most important researchers.

Throughout her career Professor Starfield’s
overriding concerns were understanding the impact of health services on health,
especially with regard to the relative contributions of primary care and
specialty care on reducing inequities in health.  She was instrumental in leading projects
worldwide to develop important methodological tools for assessing diagnosed
morbidity burden.  In 1996 she
co-founded the International …

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