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VOL. 124 | NO. 201 | Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gene Research Co. Launches Contest

By RICHARD THOMPSON | Special to The Daily News

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In academic research, the basic truth of not perishing – or staying employed – is to publish in quality peer-reviewed journals. The same holds true for Memphis-based Computable Genomix’s business model.

Enter “Publish or Perish,” Computable Genomix’s contest that will award $10,000 to each of the first three researchers to publish a discovery using the company’s next-generation, Web-based text mining tool, GeneIndexer, for genomic research.

Contest registration ends Dec. 31. Two Webinars are slated for Oct. 27 and Nov. 10 to help researchers learn how to use the online research tool, which Computable beta-tested for more than a year.

“We’re in the same boat” as academic researchers, said Computable’s CEO Brad Silver, speaking about the need for publication in credible journals. The goal is to incorporate GeneIndexer into the research process.

‘X’ marks the spot

Genomics is the study of inheritable traits, or genes, of organisms. For example, there are 24,000 genes in the human genome. It could take months for a researcher to analyze all of the dense literature that gives insight into how genes might work to create particular conditions. “There’s too much information to consider,” Silver said.

GeneIndexer is a search engine that accelerates that literature analysis process by mining more than a million gene-related abstracts available through the National Library of Medicine.

The result, based on computational analysis of all published research, is a clustering of genes that are highly relevant to a specific set of questions. It’s akin to an “X” on a treasure map, revealing where researchers should dig to make a discovery.

“It’s very much a bull’s eye tool,” said Silver. “We’re saying, ‘Look here first.’”

Strings attached

As part of the “Publish or Perish” contest, entrants will receive a free one-month subscription to GeneIndexer. (The typical trial period is two weeks; Silver did not disclose how much a subscription costs.)

In addition to the grant, the company will reimburse winners for their journal publication fees and will receive one free annual subscription to GeneIndexer.

Silver said not any kind of publication will do.

“It’s not talking about Underwater Genomics magazine or something like that,” he said. “It has to be quality.”

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