Visualization Tool for Alignments (VISTA)

Visualization Tool for Alignments (VISTA)

In the field of comparative genomics, scientistscan compare the human genome with those ofother organisms to identify common regions ofDNA; gain insights into how genes areswitched on and off; and further theirunderstanding of the human genome’sevolution, structure and function. In someways, sequencing the human genome was theeasy part; the more difficult task ofunderstanding and analyzing the functions ofnucleotide pairs in human cells still lies ahead.Recognizing this need, a team from LawrenceBerkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)developed a user-friendly computer programcalled Visualization Tool for Alignments(VISTA), which allows researchers to quicklycompare the genomes of various organisms.This technology was conceived, developed,and transferred by a team of biologists,mathematicians, and computer scientists atLBNL and the University of California atBerkeley (UCB). The VISTA teamimplemented a seamless technology transferprocess to maximize the program’saccessibility. By making the program publiclyavailable online via a dedicated server (http://www-gsd.lbl.gov/vista), the team made itpossible for researchers to register and submitgenome sequences for comparisonelectronically. Licenses for VISTA areavailable free of charge to academic andnonprofit organizations. Commercialinstitutions may purchase site licenses on theWeb. Currently, VISTA is accessed on the weban average of almost 1,700 times per month.Since its public introduction, VISTA hasbecome one of the most popular and widelypraised comparative genomics tools availableto biologists, geneticists, and biomedicalresearchers. This technology is contributing toimportant research on coronary heart disease,leukemia, cardiac and skeletal muscledevelopment, and genetic disorders. Theinformation it yields is accelerating theunderstanding of human diseases and disorders,which promises a bountiful harvest ofcontributions to human health and well-being.
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