Who needs e-books when you can view all those trillions of A's, G's, T's and C's that make up your DNA right on your iPad?
The Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBMI) at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has created an iPad app called "Genome Wowser" that lets users explore the intricacies of the human genome in a simple touch screen interface .
"We feel that 'Genome Wowser' provides immediacy to the human genome," said Peter White, director of CBMI. "With this app, researchers can now access genomic data from anywhere with minimal effort, and they can immediately explore the genome visually by using the intuitive screen touches and gestures that have made the iPad platform so powerful."
"Genome Wowser" is a bit like a travel map that takes users on a ride through the human genome. In fact, the user plans a "travel route" similarly to what they would do in Google Maps. For instance, enter the name of a specific gene or sequence and the app navigates directly to that portion of the genome.
The app also contains notes from researchers about purposes of specific sections of DNA as well as what happens when the DNA code is changed. And of course, the portability of the iPad is a huge boon to researchers.
"With this app, I can hear about an interesting disease gene at a seminar and see its genomic and functional contexts in a few screen touches, including … critical associations you can’t determine from a simple Web search," White said. "Then, I can walk over to a colleague and share it with them, all in a few seconds."
The app will be continuously updated with new information, and the CBMI even plans to add genome sequences of nonhuman species such as dogs, cats, mice and chimpanzees. "Genome Wowser" is a free download from Apple's App Store.