Today, it is possible to know more about a species than ever before by decrypting its genome (DNA) and transcriptome (RNA.). However, processing this data into a coherent form and interpreting it is more difficult than simply collecting it. Characterizing the genes of a particular species plays a critical role in interpretation. For instance, the presence of certain genes in a given genome may be indicative of the wood quality of local forestry products, or provide insights into the infectious patterns of a pathogen in the food chain. However, comprehensive and accurate gene identification and annotation depends on the completeness and correctness of the underlying information.
The utility of genomic and transcriptomic data is determined by two factors: experimental design and the analysis methods used. The former is well covered; Dr. Inanc Birol of the BC Cancer Agency is focusing on the latter goal, which remains a challenge. He is building methods to improve the quality of assembled genomes and transcriptomes by detecting misassembled sequences. He will also develop tools and resources to facilitate gene annotation and predict their function. Further, he and his team will also develop visualization tools to assess the quality of assemblies and their associated annotations.
The tools will be made available through Dr. Birol’s software portal and will help researchers world-wide better understand the world around us at the genomic and transcriptomic levels.