Grant: $731,577 - National Science Foundation - Jul. 30, 2009
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Award Description: A full understanding of human evolution requires understanding modern human diversification and the origins of modern human populations. As modern humans expanded out of Africa, genetic drift and selection operated to change allele frequencies at millions of DNA polymorphisms. These frequency differences among modern populations are one way in which the history of our species is written in our DNA. For the past 8+ years, funded by NSF grants #BCS-0096588, BCS-0725180, and BCS-0840570, ALFRED (the ALlele FREquency Database) has been accumulating and extensively curating allele frequency data from the widely dispersed literature and making it freely available over the web with a user-friendly interface. That funding is ending and without additional funding ALFRED will shortly become largely static, though data continue to accumulate in the literature and very high throughput (VHT) data on a few important populations are becoming available. In addition to the necessary ongoing maintenance of the database, this application is focused on continuing to incorporate data into ALFRED and improving the database interfaces to facilitate better use of the data in ALFRED while continuing to provide good anthropologic curation. The project will have three specific aims: (1) continuing to increase the contents by incorporating data from multiple sources including the VHT data available now and in the near future, (2) enhancing the educational utility of the database by adding didactic material for teachers to use, and (3) enhancing the user interface to allow users to better navigate the database. The first specific aim will be the primary focus because the value of the database increases as the contents increase. The educational utility will be enhanced by additional explanatory text and static graphics to improve student comprehension. Improved navigation will involve providing additional and more flexible methods to access data and methods to obtain more quickly an overview of the data relevant to the individual user. Intellectual Merit: The intellectual merit in this proposal consists of assembling into a single database in a standardized manner data that are published or publically available in diverse formats, often using non-standard terminology, and making those data accessible in user friendly, flexible ways. This process involves the combination of expertise in anthropology, molecular biology, and computer science. We believe the merit of such effort has been superbly documented by the current state of ALFRED and will grow with the proposed efforts to build on that foundation to increase both content and accessibility to the data. Broader Impacts: ALFRED is already a resource used internationally in research and teaching. Hundreds of different users access ALFRED every month and citations of ALFRED regularly occur in the literature. ALFRED is a unique resource that makes otherwise inaccessible data readily available to users from a variety of different fields. Continuing to make the existing database available is of value to existing and future users in these areas. Increasing the database size and scope, as well as improving the accessibility of the data will only enhance its value in research. The proposed efforts to enhance the educational utility of the database will improve accessibility to large datasets for teaching/learning about normal human genetic variation and how that variation is distributed around the world, thereby illuminating our biological history as a species. It is also our belief that understanding normal genetic variation is one of the surest ways to prevent racist misuse of genetic data.
Project Description: See Award Description
Jobs Summary: Research Associate 1 HSS Professor (Total jobs reported: 1)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Jul. 30, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.