Monday, June 15, 2009

Using the Google Maps API in Science

Genome Projector

The Genome Projector is a searchable database browser that uses the Google Maps API to provide a zoomable user interface for molecular biology. The Genome Projector currently contains four views, the Genome map, the Plasmid map, the Pathway map, and DNA walk.

I'll admit I'm out of my depth here, so here's how the Genome Projector introduce the map interface,

"In molecular biology, looking at reactions and behaviors of specific molecular components in microscopic levels is important as with looking at the systematic behavior of the whole. Therefore, researchers need a scalable point of view, having access to all of the microscopic, macroscopic, and mesoscopic levels of biological knowledge. Moreover, biological data is highly multi-dimensional by nature, and understanding of the data requires multiple views, layers, or projections, for example, in the levels of genome, transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome."

NYU School of Medicine Virtual Microscope

Created by the NYU School of Medicine the Virtual Microscope uses the Google Maps API to display and navigate scanned slides of microscopic images. Students and faculty members who are logged into the school's Learning Management System can even add markers to the slides to annotate and comment on slide features.

The site even comes with its own 'hot or not' feature which allows students to rate the slides (at the moment the most popular is a slide of the intestinal helminthic infection Trichuris trichiura - as if you hadn't guessed). The slides also come with a 'link-to-view' button which allows students to save or share links to a specific image, location within the slide and zoom level.

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