University of Colorado, Boulder

To provide improved tools for data analysis, including better user interfaces, protocols, and standards

  • Amount $1,000,000
  • City Boulder, CO
  • Investigator Robin Knight
  • Year 2014
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Microbiology of the Built Environment

Researchers working in indoor microbial ecology have no easy way to share data.  Though the community is adopting state-of-the-art gene sequencing techniques, use of these new methods makes it difficult to compare newly collected data with older data collected using alternative methods.  What’s needed is an easy-to-use data platform that will facilitate data sharing by integrating sample handling, sequencing, analysis, and data release.  Funds from this grant support a project by Rob Knight of the University of Colorado and Mitch Sogin of the Marine Biological Laboratory to develop just such an integrated data platform. Over the next two years, Knight and Sogin will attempt to merge two data platforms used by microbial ecologists: QIIME (Quantitative Insights into Molecular Ecology) and VAMPS (Visualization and Analysis of Microbial Population Structures).  VAMPS is very user-friendly and nimble; QIIME is more powerful but harder to use.  The aim is to develop a new system that combines the best of both platforms, tying the user-friendly tools in VAMPS to the powerful analytical capacity of QIIME.  They will also develop a series of protocols and standards for the collection and analysis of microbial data using the new system.  The project will result in new standard operating procedures, better software tools, and improved methods for depositing and sharing data in indoor microbial ecology. The team expects the new tools and procedures to be adopted by at least 75 to 100 researchers, with at least 100 students and postdocs will be trained through annual workshops.

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