The information management system that the Biodiversity Informatics Group has developed for the EOL draws from two prior efforts at the MBL: uBio, a database of taxonomic names and names-based services and tools developed in 2000 by David Remsen and Patrick Leary of the MBLWHOI Library and by Dr. Patterson; and micro*scope, the first application of uBio outside of the MBLWHOI Library, developed by Dr. Patterson.
We have been creating the unique system of managing information on organisms that underpins the EOL since 2000, says Dr. Patterson. We didnt invent the term taxonomic intelligence, which is the idea that you can emulate the skills and abilities of taxonomists within information systems. But the MBL was the first to develop and apply the informatics tools to do so. And the EOL is this concept writ very large.
Another group at the MBL will take the EOLs macroscopic powers to look at patterns of aging across organisms, in an effort to identify genes or other factors involved in aging. This group, called Biology of Aging Across the Spectrum of Life, is funded by The Ellison Medical Foundation and is directed by Indra Neil Sarkar.
The EOL will have a truly transformational impact on biology, says Dr. Patterson. Scientists will be able to move towards considerably more global questions, and will have the tools and the data to answer them.
The symphony we are creating is amazing, adds Cathy Norton.
The rapid progress on the EOL to date was congratulated by Harvards E.O. Wilson, University Professor Emeritus, who articulated the need for a dynamic modern portrait of biodiversity in a widely read essay in 2003. His letter in 2005 to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation resulted in a $10 million seed grant to start the EOL, soon complemented by a further $2.5 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In March 2007, Wilson was one
|Contact: Diana Kenney|
Marine Biological Laboratory