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First Annual Meeting of RFA-Funded Microarray Investigators

Juanuary 11-12, 2001


Through specific microarray research initiatives in 2000, NIDA funded 13 research project grants, and NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) funded 10 grants to establish microarray research centers. Although each initiative committed the Principal Investigators to timely sharing of information, materials, and technology, it is difficult to share microarray data because there are no standards for describing or analyzing experiments. To overcome the barriers to microarray data sharing, NIDA and NIDDK held a meeting of the funded Principal Investigators. On the first day, the investigators met jointly to focus on the issues in experimental design, methodology, analysis and data storage that are prerequisites for eventual data sharing. On the second day, the NIDA and NIDDK grantees met separately to discuss specific data-sharing steps unique to their specialized research interests.

Day 1 - Joint Meeting with NIDDK-Funded Investigators:

The joint meeting presentations focused on the issues in experimental design, methodology, analysis and data storage that are prerequisites for eventual data sharing. The day's agenda attempted to follow the order of the steps involved in carrying out a microarray experiment.

The program included talks by Peter Munson (Center for Information Technology/NIH), Yidong Chen (NHGRI/NIH), and Richard Simon (NCI/NIH) on data analysis. Al George (Vanderbilt), Ming Li (Univ. of Tennessee), and Janet Hager (Yale) highlighted various aspects of manufacturing quality control and automation in preparing spotted cDNA arrays. Michael Miles (Gallo Clinic and Research Center/UCSF) and Steve Gullans (Harvard) gave presentations on normalization of data and methods of reducing error and background.

In addition, Alex Lash (NCBI/NIH) presented the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO), a new public database repository for storage of data from large-scale expression assays, such as microarrays. Scott Markel (Netgenics) spoke as co-chair of the Life Sciences Taskforce of the Object Management Group (OMG), describing OMG's efforts to foster the development of a single software standard for presentation of microarray data.

Day 2 - NIDA PIs Meeting:

The meeting opened with the PIs each giving a brief description of their funded project and introducing their associates.

Dr. Todd Coolbaugh (American Research Corp. of Virginia), a NIDA SBIR program contractor, described the electrospray technology his company has developed for printing custom arrays, and expressed his eagerness to work with the PIs to make this technology useful for the general microarray research community.

Dr. Himanshu Oberoi (PPGx), another NIDA SBIR program contractor, gave a brief overview of the new Web-based query interface that he and his colleagues have developed for analysis of microarray expression data. This tool is one part of the company's overall computational approach to managing data from clinical trials and other large studies.

The rest of the meeting was devoted to a discussion on aspects of data sharing, including the use of GEO as a data repository, development of a common submission format, use of a core of common genes for normalization and comparison, and the possibility of developing a pool of control RNA.


The PIs agreed to communicate during the coming year to further develop sharing plans, and to develop proposals in time for next year's annual meeting. This meeting was important because the participants developed a model for how groups of scientists using microarrays to study a particular topic, such as drug abuse or the digestive system, can coordinate their activities to produce a larger data set amenable to various types of meta-analysis or cross-comparisons. An article summarizing the meeting will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

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