Calling All DNA Chip Data

Researchers who've joined the stampede to use glass chips dotted with specks of genes to study how cells work now have a place to share their growing piles of data. Last week, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) rolled out a new public Web database that will archive results from DNA microarrays and other hot lab tools for seeing the expression of thousands of genes at once.

The Gene Expression Omnibus, or GEO, will store data from any type of gene expression test, including both manufactured and homemade chips, for free. Scientists log in, describe the test type, and post results--tables showing gene expression levels--and reference images of their arrays. GEO will also archive results from a series of tests, such as the dose-response relationship of a toxin. You can't do much of a search just yet, as the first stage is simply to build a stash of data. But within a few months, "you'll be able to query in different ways," says NCBI's Alex Lash. He hopes that, as with the GenBank gene database, people will eventually submit even data they don't necessarily plan to publish.

At least two other public microarray databases are also in the works: The National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe, New Mexico, plans to open a database this fall, and the U.K.'s European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) hopes to launch one next year.

Related sites
The Gene Expression Omnibus
The EBI's Array Express
The National Center for Genome Resources
More links to microarray resources