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A new BioIT resolver asks: Why can’t we share?

[Filed for ADT ’s Programmer Report] -- Last week, IBM announced that it contributed its implementation of the Life Sciences Identifier (LSID) Resolver software to open source. The XML software provides a common way to name and find biological data, meeting a need of many pharmaceutical, biological and other organizations dealing with an increasingly diverse onslaught of data, both behind the firewall and on the Web.

Sun Microsystems is another major player pledged to support LSID, which is a standard promoted by the Interoperable Informatics Infrastructure Consortium (I3C).

“The challenge within the life sciences industry, whether it's biological or chemical, is that we desperately need more interoperability around informatics,” said Mike Svinte, VP worldwide marketing and business development for IBM’s Life Sciences group.

We need to move to more open standards such as SOAP and XML, said Svinte, who described the LSID resolver as a protocol for finding, naming and sharing data.

Speaking recently to ADT ’s Programmers Report e-mail newsletter, Svinte said that IBM has been at work on creating a Life Sciences framework to help scientists collaborate and to “get at the data they have.” Like others, he suggests that important health breakthroughs may be in store as computer databases are integrated to link environmental data, patient records, proteonomic and genetic data.

This is important. The vast success in uncovering the nature of genomes may obscure the fact from the general public, but DNA is just part of the issue in solving riddles of disease.

“When the [deciphered] human genome was announced, some said the race was won. But others said it was just a race to the start line,” chided Svinte, who said that key programmer language skills in this emerging field include Java and Perl.

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.

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