The constant and massive increase of biological data offers unprecedented opportunities to decipher the function and evolution of genes and their roles in human diseases. However, the multiplicity of sources and flow of data mean that efficient access to useful information and knowledge production has become a major challenge. This challenge can be addressed by taking inspiration from Web 2.0 and particularly social networks, which are at the forefront of big data exploration and human-data interaction.
MyGeneFriends is a Web platform inspired by social networks, devoted to genetic disease analysis, and organized around three types of proactive agents: genes, humans, and genetic diseases. The aim of this study was to improve exploration and exploitation of biological, postgenomic era big data.
MyGeneFriends leverages conventions popularized by top social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc), such as networks of friends, profile pages, friendship recommendations, affinity scores, news feeds, content recommendation, and data visualization.
MyGeneFriends provides simple and intuitive interactions with data through evaluation and visualization of connections (friendships) between genes, humans, and diseases. The platform suggests new friends and publications and allows agents to follow the activity of their friends. It dynamically personalizes information depending on the user’s specific interests and provides an efficient way to share information with collaborators. Furthermore, the user’s behavior itself generates new information that constitutes an added value integrated in the network, which can be used to discover new connections between biological agents.