Members of Science Advisory Board Test Early Release of CAMERA Capabilities

By Stephanie Sides

Science Advisory Board
Science Advisory Board

La Jolla, California, December 13, 2006 – Five members of the CAMERA Science Advisory Board joined staff from Calit2, the J. Craig Venter Institute, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center, and representatives from the Moore Foundation funding the project to preview and provide feedback on a pre-release of the system anticipating the public release in mid-January. The meeting included remote participation from additional members of the Venter team in Rockville, MD, via a LifeSize videoteleconferencing system, which is used weekly for team meetings.

The board members who participated included Ginger Armbrust, University of Washington; Ed Delong, MIT; Mary Ann Moran, University of Georgia; Forest Rowher, San Diego State University; and Alex Worden, University of Miami.

As CAMERA executive director Paul Gilna said, “We’re seeking the board’s help in this testing phase. We’ll guide you through the functions of the CAMERA system as it exists today, release 0.4, but it’s still a good representation of what we’ll debut in January.” The project has implemented a release every month for the past several to test the technology and team interaction among the various participating sites, regularly transferring 150-GB files, including entire datasets and applications.

Gilna specified the “order of battle” to include having board members register for accounts (which will remain persistent), access data sets (through sample, publication, and project views), run a BLAST search (via entering or uploading a data file), and provide comments on the website graphic design and discussion forums.

Saul Kravitz, JCVI
Gupta, SDSC, and Gilna, Calit2
Saul Kravitz, JCVI, at left; at right, Amarnath Gupta, San Diego
Supercomputer Center, with Paul Gilna, CAMERA executive director

This system includes the basic functionality the project seeks to refine prior to the January release. That includes a consistent look and feel among the various web components to create a transparent experience for users; access to data, metadata, and descriptions from various metagenomics projects (Global Ocean Survey, the public Moore Foundation-funded 150 genomes, Forest Rowher’s marine virome dataset, and Ed Delong’s HOT/Aloha dataset); initial presentation of BLAST; and significant features in development.

The project used the meeting to solicit general impressions from the members, in the words of Saul Kravitz from JCVI, “We want your gut reactions without filtering.” Said Gilna, “Give us your feedback on functionality: What doesn’t work right? What doesn’t work as expected? Is there obviously missing functionality? What about the stability of the system? Also what data sets are ‘must haves.’”

The board’s feedback will help prioritize action items for completion by the January release.