Wikipedia Opens Library on Human Genes

A group of US researchers laid out the foundations this week for a new online library on human genetics stored within the existing framework of open-access encyclopedia Wikipedia.

“There are about 25,000 genes in the humane genome. We have 9,000 articles,” said Andrew Su, one of those behind the “Gene Wiki” project from the Genomics Institute at the Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego, California.

“Our goal is to provide a uniform starting point for all genes,” he said, noting that afterwards it was up to other scientists to add information and keep it up to date, as happens now with Wikipedia entries.

“The entire community will generate content and also oversee that content.”

Meanwhile, researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School are also harnessing the power of the internet for their work, this time to track outbreaks of infectious disease such as meningitis or tuberculosis. is a data-gathering system that collects, organizes and disseminates information on outbreaks from online discussion forums and news outlets on the internet.

“Web-based electronic information sources can play an important role in early event detection and support situational awareness by providing current, highly local information about outbreaks,” said researcher John Brownstein.

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