Navigating the human genome with software that you can view on your iPad sounds pretty impressive, until perhaps you reflect that nature has already encoded trillions of copies of this in your chromosomes.
Now, the Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBMi) at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has created Genome Wowser, an app for exploring genomic information that is convenient, intuitive and highly mobile.
Anyone with an iPad can download the app for free from the iTunes App StoreSM on the Internet.
Using Genome Wowser, a researcher can traverse the human genome just like planning a travel route on Google Maps.
A common use for the tool is to enter the name of a gene in Wowser's search box.
The app finds the gene on one of the 23 human chromosomes, displaying an interactive image of its precise location among the genome's 3 billion base pairs.
Also included are annotations contributed by researchers-notes about each gene's known or suspected biological functions, and about identified mutations and variants of the gene.
Users can find information about neighboring genes or about epigenetics-how a gene's functions are modified when chemicals attach or separate from exposed sections of DNA.
Touching the screen (pinching and spreading) allows a user to zoom in or out of the chromosome region.
"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," he added.