Guide to PHARMACOLOGY out and about: Spring 2014 conferences and meetings

In April one of our curators, Helen Benson, represented the team at the Seventh International Biocuration Conference at the University of Toronto, and presented a poster outlining our approved drug and clinical target curation. This visit followed the previous year’s meeting of the International Society for Biocuration in Cambridge, UK, attended by both Helen and database developer Joanna Sharman.

Over the 4 days of the conference, the programme of talks and workshops covered many themes relevant to our work, as well as discussing the challenges facing biocurators today. These challenges include how curatorial work will evolve in an age of big data, and the role of crowdsourcing and text mining in managing the volume of biological data to be included in online databases. Keynote speakers Suzanna Lewis and Lincoln Stein discussed these themes with their respective talks on optimisation of curation and whether Big Data will crush curation.

One of the main themes from the talks and the workshops was the role and implementation of clinical and anatomical ontologies to databases. Additionally, several talks discussed data standards and controlled vocabularies, with particular regard to pathway curation. This issue is particularly pertinent to us as we now include enzyme pathways in our database.

Our team of curators has now expanded to 4, and our pipeline for ligand and target curation is constantly evolving to achieve optimum methods. It was therefore invaluable for us to learn more about the projects of other research groups, and to hear about which areas have become key focus points for the field. As always, it was a pleasure to meet others working in the field and we look forward to attending this event in the future.

Our database developer, Joanna Sharman, attended Edinburgh Neuroscience Day, an annual day of talks and poster presentations involving over 300 researchers with an interest in neuroscience.

Joanna also attended and presented a poster at the Barcelona GPCR Spring Conference organised by the GLISTEN network. This included presenting and discussing proposals for collaborations at the GPCRDB Satellite Meeting.

Joanna was also invited to attend a workshop on Computational Challenges in Data Citation at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, which brought together three groups of people (Computer Scientists, Information Scientists and Data Scientists) to explore the technical challenges and research opportunities posed by the increasing demand to generate citations for large, complex datasets.

Chemical curator Chris Southan started his 2014 representations with an invited visit to the April 29th – May 1st BioIT World, Boston, as co-organiser and presenter at a Workshop entitled “A Bar Code for Chemical Structures:Using the InChI to Transform Connectivity between Chemistry, Biology, Biomedicine and Drug Discovery”.

His individual workshop presentation was entitled “Transformative Utility of InChIKey Searching in the Mother of all Databases”.

A poster related to the database was also presented on “Will the real drugs please stand up?”.

In May 6th Chris had the privilege of being one of the opponents in a (successful) PhD examination for The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. The trip included a presentation to the department and the GPCRDB team entitled “Will the real drugs and targets please stand up ? Evolving consensus-based curatorial strategies”.

On June 1-5th Chris attended the 10th International Conference on Chemical Structures. His oral presentation was entitled “Will the real drug targets please stand up?”.

As an alumnus from his work on the ELIXIR project in 2008/9 Chris attended the June 12th EMBL-EBI 20th Anniversary celebrations. He also took the opportunity to visit the EBI and Cambridge on the next day for discussions with a range of collaborators including UniProt, MEROPS, ChEMBL and NextMove Software.

Database Principal Investigator Jamie Davies attended the SULSA Synthetic Biology Meeting, in Edinburgh on 10th June and presented our poster “Exploiting Edinburgh’s Guide to PHARMACOLOGY database as a source of protein design information for synthetic biology”.

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