This week marks a slightly different direction for biobits.org. For some time, I have been thinking of interviewing practitioners in the world of cancer genomics, and getting their perspectives.
What motivated you to build IntOGen in the first place? What specific problem were you trying to solve?
NLB: Numerous independent projects are re-sequencing cohorts of tumor genomes and identifying the mutations found within them, including projects from the TCGA, ICGC, as well as independent initiatives not linked to...
Usability is an often overlooked feature in bioinformatics software. The result is that many bioinformatics tools remain underutilized, and many fail to reach their full potential.
The EMBL European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) is one of the few bioinformatics groups to specifically embrace usability and user-centered design in bioinformatics (see recommended reading). Many of the group's recommendations are compelling, but it's hard to imagine most bioinformatics groups following the rigorous example put forth by the EBI — for example, putting in the overhead to define user "personae", conducting extensive user interviews, and setting up off-site workshops with potential users to define workflows.
Nonetheless, there are three areas where the EBI is spot on.
First, you must champion the idea of usability yourself. For most groups, the end-game is the paper describing the software,...