Today at the Beyond the Genome conference in San Francisco, researchers from BGI were presented with this year's BioMed Central Open Data Award for their work demonstrating that DNA methylation occurs in the parasitic worm Trichinella spiralis, a human pathogen. Presented by the open access publisher BioMed Central to recognize authors who have demonstrated leadership in the sharing, standardization, publication, or re-use of biomedical research data, this is the 4th time the award has been presented, and the first time to researchers from China. The article, published in Genome Biology, has shaken up the field of epigenetics by shattering the assumption that DNA methylation is absent in nematodes, the tiny worm species that serves as an important model organism for cell and developmental biology research. As a novel and potentially controversial finding, the huge amounts of supporting data were deposited in the journal GigaScience's database GigaDB to assist others to follow on and reproduce the results.
The judges and editors of Genome Biology were impressed by the numerous extra steps taken by the authors in optimizing the openness and easy accessibility of this data, and were keen to emphasize that the value of open data for such breakthrough science lies not only in providing a resource, but also in conferring transparency to unexpected conclusions that others will naturally wish to challenge. In addition to depositing the raw sequencing and transcriptomic data in the GEO and SRA databases, the authors went beyond standard research practices by making publicly available all additional supporting data in as usable a form as possible and under a CC0 public domain waiver. The authors worked with GigaScience's GigaDB repository to host associated data types that do not have well-established repositories, and also presented their data in the interoperable ISA-Tab format to maximize its reusability. When asked his thoughts on the v
|Contact: Jia Liu|