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Champions informatics Iobion Informatics

March 7, 2002

Iobion Informatics
Stephen Sharp, Ph.D.
Director of Marketing

Affordable Software for Bench Researchers

What is the history of your organization’s involvement in life science?
: Iobion Informatics is a startup bioinformatics software company whose focus is to provide the biologist at the bench affordable and robust software applications. Given the data-centric direction of biological research, it was of interest to us that there were no data management solutions that were easily installed, easily maintained and cost effective for individuals and small groups.

What organizational assets have you developed to serve this community?
: Iobion programmers have worked side-by-side with research biologists to build practical tools that bring value to the biologist. While particular attention has been paid to workflow, we have found that biologists do not want “black-box” software. They want the software to perform the computations but in a way that a biologist understands and can validate prior to expending valuable wet-lab budget. While Iobion’s software provides high-throughput capability, the researcher is always able to drill down to the original raw data, including microarray image files. From the Iobion side it has been critical to have sufficient biological and IT expertise in-house to work with Iobion programmers and the research scientists.

What products and services does your company provide to the life sciences market?
: We have focused our initial efforts on bringing a data management system to the microarray biological research community. The Iobion GeneTraffic software system has been built on robust open source software, which includes the PostgreSQL object-relational database. The database provides the rock-solid foundation on which we build higher-level analysis and statistical tools in a Web-deployed client-server system. The functionality is high with the price kept relatively low.

What new products and services do you have in development?
: The expected ability of biologists to query a biological organism at the system level using microarray technology will produce an enormous amount of data that must be integrated and analyzed effectively to be useful. We’re working on this challenge. The microarray method will only be fully realized if the microarray data is suitably integrated with other necessary biological data and treated appropriately at the statistical level. There is a need for creative software solutions that not only bring the data together but also do it in a way that is straightforward and that makes sense given the biological question at hand.

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