The Fellowship for Interpretation of Genomes (FIG)

FIG is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing support for those analyzing genomes.

Sequencing of genomes is laying the foundation for advances in science that will dramatically reshape our society. These advances will initially occur in medicine, agriculture, and chemical production, but in the long term the impact will be pervasive. The computer revolution started by impacting payrolls, but eventually allowed man to travel to the moon. Similarly, the biological revolution is beginning by reshaping the life sciences, but this will surely not be the the whole story or even the most significant outcome.

The interpretation of genomes will constitute the most exciting and most significant science of the century. By rapidly advancing our understanding of life, how it arose, and how it continues to change, we will acquire the tools that will allow us to better understand and improve our existence. Understanding has begun with relatively simple forms of life -- unicellular organisms. While the central mechanisms of life are shared by both these organisms and the most complex animals and plants, they also contain a remarkable diversity. They have an immense amount to teach us about life itself.

Since May of 2003, when it was founded by Michael Fonstein? , Yakov Kogan? , Andrei Osterman, Ross Overbeek, and Veronika Vonstein, the Fellowship for Interpretation of Genomes has focused on organizing the data needed to support interpretation of genomes (which ultimately led to the Sprout Database) and providing the infrastructure needed by the world community in its efforts to achieve understanding, including powerful tools such as the Rapid Annotation Server and the NMPDR Search.

An early FIG position paper began with the following comments:

The FIG Architecture: the SEED

We begin with the "seed" of FIG. The SEED contains the essential, basic elements that are needed to sustain a scalable integration of thousands of genomes. The later parts of this document will attempt to offer precise notions of what makes up the seed of FIG. I will cover the basic types of objects, make comments on what extensions will be needed to support hundreds of thousands of genomes, and offer an implementation plan.

However, before we go into such detail, some broad notions should be discussed. The idea of integrating hundreds of thousands of genomes needs some clarification. Indeed, what is meant by integrating a bunch of genomes, no matter what the number. In my mind, the notion of integration is essentially "maintenance of notions of neighborhood, allowing forms of access that can be used to easily explore connections and comparisons between data from numerous genomes". This may be viewed as a complicated way to say "a framework to support comparative analysis".

Since 2005, FIG has been a key partner in the development of the NMPDR Website. The original SEED is now a Sprout.

The Fellowship for Interpretation of Genomes is a 501 (c) (3) organization.

Topic revision: r4 - 20 Jan 2009 - 10:04:25 - TWiki Guest
Notice to NMPDR Users - The NMPDR BRC contract has ended and bacterial data from NMPDR has been transferred to PATRIC (, a new consolidated BRC for all NIAID category A-C priority pathogenic bacteria. NMPDR was a collaboration among researchers from the Computation Institute of the University of Chicago, the Fellowship for Interpretation of Genomes (FIG), Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois. NMPDR is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract HHSN266200400042C. Banner images are copyright © Dennis Kunkel.