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Bioinformatics. 2004 Sep 1;20(13):2075-83. Epub 2004 Apr 1.

Molecular Genetics Information System (MOLGENIS): alternatives in developing local experimental genomics databases.

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  • 1Groningen Bioinformatics Center, Faculty of Medical Sciences and Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.



Genomic research laboratories need adequate infrastructure to support management of their data production and research workflow. But what makes infrastructure adequate? A lack of appropriate criteria makes any decision on buying or developing a system difficult. Here, we report on the decision process for the case of a molecular genetics group establishing a microarray laboratory.


Five typical requirements for experimental genomics database systems were identified: (i) evolution ability to keep up with the fast developing genomics field; (ii) a suitable data model to deal with local diversity; (iii) suitable storage of data files in the system; (iv) easy exchange with other software; and (v) low maintenance costs. The computer scientists and the researchers of the local microarray laboratory considered alternative solutions for these five requirements and chose the following options: (i) use of automatic code generation; (ii) a customized data model based on standards; (iii) storage of datasets as black boxes instead of decomposing them in database tables; (iv) loosely linking to other programs for improved flexibility; and (v) a low-maintenance web-based user interface. Our team evaluated existing microarray databases and then decided to build a new system, Molecular Genetics Information System (MOLGENIS), implemented using code generation in a period of three months. This case can provide valuable insights and lessons to both software developers and a user community embarking on large-scale genomic projects.


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