ISA Tools used in NASA GeneLab data collection

ISA Tools used in NASA GeneLab data collection

The open source ISA framework and tools, which help to manage an increasingly diverse set of life science, environmental and biomedical experiments (see ISAcommons), are being used by NASA for its GeneLab platform, which expands scientists' access to research carried out in space environments.

The ultimate goal of GeneLab is to enable space exploration by allowing researchers to understand the complex responses of biological systems to the space environment.

The vast amounts of raw omics data generated by experiments aboard the International Space Station will be made available to scientists and computational researchers worldwide in an open access database.

The GeneLab data repository hosts space biology and space-related datasets funded by multiple space agencies around the world. Study data hosted in the repository include a metadata definition file formatted according to the Investigation/Study/Assay (ISA) tab-delimited (tab) (ISA-Tab) specification, which can be produced using the ISA-tools ISACreator application with a customized GeneLab configuration.

The ISA model is a general-purpose model to collect and communicate complex metadata (i.e. sample characteristics, technologies used, type of measurements made) mainly from 'omics-based' experiments employing a combination of technologies.

As of October 2017, GeneLab added 138 studies to the GeneLab Data Repository.

The Centre's Professor Susanna-Assunta Sansone, who leads the Oxford e-Research Centre team running FAIRSharing and ISA resources, says: "We are excited to see ISA flying so high! Running since 2007, our team has strongly invested in building a diverse user base that currently range from hundreds to thousands of users from diverse domains, because the tools is currently embedded almost 30 public resources, supported two data-driven journals, and it complements 9 internal data platforms".