BioProtocol, A Web-Based Collection of Protocols, Is Launched
Recognizing the need for a single, comprehensive, centralized database of high-quality protocols for life-scientists, BioProtocol was founded in August 1999 by three University of California, Berkeley postdocs, Russell Ingersoll, Craig Mayr, and Christopher Yoo, with funding from individual investors and venture capital. The company, which now employs nine full time staff members, has assembled an impressive list of contributors, science advisors, and an editorial board, headed by Jasper Rine and Bob Tijan, both of Cal Berkeley. The company has close ties to the scientific community at the university through its founders and its advisors and is expanding these ties both nationally and internationally. In its first release, BioProtocol's protocols come from scientists at over 100 laboratories worldwide.
Unlike other sites that aggregate protocols, BioProtocol is not a ""jump station" to other sites. All the protocols are maintained on the BioProtocol web site. In addition, before posting, all protocols go through an extensive review process by the editorial board, which oversees the quality of the protocols and the over-all holdings of the site, and the house staff, which reviews the protocols and puts them into a uniform format.
BioProtocol sets up personalized homepages for its registered users, where you can store protocols that interest you. It also provides file management capabilities so that multiple protocols can be managed by single commands. The personal homepage also comes with personalized support. When, for example, a search comes up blank, behind-the-scenes scientists look through the existing archive of protocols (either online or physical) and e-mail the user on their personalized BioProtocol account with protocols relevant to their search.
To get an idea of the comprehensiveness of the collection, a search on DNA isolation turned up 33 protocols, everything from isolation of DNA from cheek swabs to mouse tails. Each entry, in addition to the protocol itself, includes a list of chemicals, solutions, references, and, where needed, hints that will get you through the sticky points.
What can you expect in the future from BioProtocol? BioProtocol will continue to aggregate protocols and, in addition, will be posting product information from the companies that supply the tools used in the protocols. According to Dushyant Pathak, president of BioProtocol, his vision is that soon you will be able to go from reading a protocol, to checking out the specifications of relevant products, to actually buying the supplies you need, all without leaving the site.
For more information: Dushyant Pathak, President and CEO, BioProtocol Inc. Tel: 510-665-4570. Fax: 510-665-4715. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Laura DeFrancesco