Biological Data Visualization
Date: 10-09-2012 - 14-09-2012
Location: Schloss Dagstuhl, Wadern, Germany
Biology has evolved into a ‘big data’ science, and as a consequence there is an urgent and growing need to improve the methods and tools used for gaining insight and understanding from biological data. Over the last two decades, the emerging fields of computational biology and bioinformatics have led to significant advances primarily in automated data analysis. Today, however, biologists increasingly deal with large, complex datasets (e.g., ‘omics’ data) where it is not known in advance what they are looking for and thus, automated analyses alone cannot solve their problems. Interactive visualizations that can facilitate exploratory data analysis and support biologists in creating new hypotheses lend themselves to complement automated analyses. One main goal of this Dagstuhl seminar is to bring together the users (biologists), current visualization tool builders (bioinformaticians), and visualization researchers to analyze the state-of-the-art of the current tools and define a research agenda for systematically developing the next generation of tools for visualizing biological data. Only a close collaboration of researchers from all three communities can create the synergies necessary to address the challenges in analyzing and visualizing large and complex biological datasets. The focus of this seminar will be on building the foundation for ongoing collaborations and ultimately establishing a new interdisciplinary research community for visualizing biological data. Topics of interest include:
- Challenges in visualizing biological data. Biological data is very heterogeneous. It contains spatial data, graphs, tabular data, and textual data. Challenges are wide spread: open-ended data quantity, open-ended exploratory tasks, long-term analyses, rich analytics, heterogeneous data, usability and evaluation of tools.
- Design and visualization principles, research in human-centered design, usability, and evaluation of interactive data-analysis. Establishing collaborations between computer scientists and biologists.
- Hands-on experience in breakout groups: analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of existing tools in small groups (using biologists’ real data). Invited bioinformaticians will present their visualization tools for 3D structures, genomics data, cellular imaging, systems biology, and populations. Biologists and visualization researchers will discuss and analyze strengths and shortcomings from their unique perspectives.
- Designing an infrastructure for next generation visualization tools.
- Creating a common research agenda and a common understanding of the problem field of biological data visualization.
Further topics will be added, depending on the specific interests of the participants.
The vision of the seminar is to facilitate collaboration to support biologists, bioinformaticians, and visualization researchers in tackling the big data analysis challenges ahead. The organizers plan to publish results of the Dagstuhl seminar in a special issue of a high impact bioinformatics journal to ensure that a broad audience in the field is reached.