My colleagues and I are beginning a project to create a database to keep track
of biological entities used by my employer , a pharmaceutical research
organization. These "entities" include (but are not limited to) gene sequences
and molecular biological materials, viruses, bacteria, fungi, strains of clonal
cell lines (mammalian and insect), parasitic invertebrates, insects, and
mammals. Creating a central repository for information about such a variety of
things is a daunting task. Before we get too deeply into the design phase of
this project we would like to learn about experiences others have had in
creating and maintaining biological databases.
We are, naturally, aware of the molecular biological databases and the nematode
strain databases, and are interested in contacting the people who develop and
use them, but we are casting a wider net in the hope of contacting people with
experience with databases designed for other purposes. I am thinking, for
instance, of biologists involved in floral or faunal surveys or biodiversity
projects, geneticists who maintain strain data on experimental animals, and so
I am eager to have a wide-ranging discussion of all issues surrounding
biological database design and construction, but initially I want to know some
(i) What experiences have people had with various database types
(Object-oriented, relational, etc.)
(ii) What software packages have been tried and kept (or discarded)?
I would really appreciate the opportunity to discuss these issues with as wide a
range of biologists as possible. If it turns out that there is enough interest
expressed in this topic I will be happy to summarize the responses I get for
subsequent posting on the net.
Thanks in advance for your help. I look forward to hearing from many of you.
Dr. Jim McGurk james_mcgurk at merck.com
Dept. Biological Data Tel: 908-594-2864
Merck Research Labs Fax: 908-594-3407
P.O. Box 2000 RY80M-TL3
Rahway, NJ 07065 USA