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Biosis - evol 7 1
BIOSIS Evolutions
5
end of 2000, an achievement that amazes even Ecker.
"Frankly, we didn't foresee the advances in techniques
and equipment," said Ecker, "we will be done three
years ahead of our schedule."
Ecker also did not foresee the sort of impact that the
project would have on how scientists share informa-
tion. "AGI has forced people to recognize that the
task is greater than any individual laboratory," said
Ecker. "It encouraged groups to cooperate and divide
the work of figuring everything out."
Ecker is already involved in planning the next phase
of the project, functional genomics, which entails
figuring out the function of Arabidopsis genes. The
next part of his career, however, will soon pass the
planning phase, as Ecker moves to the renowned
Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. There, he will
continue his research as head of the aptly named
Salk Institute Genome Analysis Laboratory (SIGnAL).
Ecker has enjoyed his three-year tour of duty as a
BIOSIS board member, and has just signed up for
three more years. He sees his role as providing an
end-user's perspective on products, and is excited by
products, such as MethodsFinder
«
, that find new ways
to organize information for the scientific community.
As a researcher, Ecker also recognizes the need to
access full-text articles. "We have the most compre-
hensive biological database, and everybody recognizes
that," said Ecker. "BIOSIS is in a unique position to
make strategic alliances with full-text providers in a
way that will really benefit researchers."
Trustee Profile: Joseph Ecker
As a not-for-profit organization, BIOSIS depends on the
expertise and guidance of its Board of Trustees to fulfill
its mission of providing life science information to students,
educators, and researchers. To show our readers how
board members offer their experience to aid BIOSIS in its
mission, Evolutions spoke to one member, Joseph Ecker,
about the future of BIOSIS from a researcher's perspective.
BIOSIS products are not the only databases on
Joseph Ecker's mind. His favorite database is older,
smaller, and written in a format unlike any other
currently available at your library. It is the genome
of Arabidopsis thalania, a database written in
nucleotides, the letters of DNA. Researchers will use
Arabidopsis, a common weed, to serve as a model for
the entire plant kingdom. "It is a reference plant,"
explained Ecker. "It provides a starting point for
examining gene expression in all other plants."
Ecker is leading the University of Pennsylvania's
contribution to a multinational effort to sequence the
25,000 genes that make up the Arabidopsis genome.
As part of a consortium with scientists at Stanford
University and the University of California, Berkeley,
Ecker's research group is in the process of sequencing
Chromosome 1 of the five Arabidopsis chromosomes.
Their work is part of a larger project, the Arabidopsis
Genome Initiative (AGI), which combines the efforts
of hundreds of researchers from around the world.
AGI expects to sequence all five chromosomes by the
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Joseph Ecker

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