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Years Of Human Genome Data Lost In UCSC Fire

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the no-backups-at-ben-stein's-alma-mater dept.

Science 44

dsavitsk links to a New York Times article which reports that several years of data related to the human genome project have been lost in a fire at the University of California at Santa Cruz, seemingly with no backup.

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toughie (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2837045)

me not so sure i want to fp this one

Celera has the backup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2837060)

And thus we see the problem of Gov't-sponsored research put into the public domain.

With no one realizing the innate value of the research, no one thought to keep it in a safe place. Everyone thought, "Hey, it's free and open, someone else must have a copy!"

Meanwhile, private companies who are devoted at mapping the genome have extensive safety and security measures set up to avoid disasters like this.

Re:Celera has the backup (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2839119)

Ah yes, the private sector. Kind of like how Arthur Andersen has backups of all those Enron documents.

Re:Celera has the backup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2843412)

I'm sure that if it were in their best interests to have copies of incriminating documents, they'd have them. We aren't talking about 'common good' here, simply profit.

Read the damn art, data NOT lost!!! (5, Informative)

karrde (853) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837081)

The data was not what was lost. It's the actuall genetic strains that have been cultivating over the past 14 years. The lead of the project says that it may take that long to re-generate the same strains...

Re:Read the damn art, data NOT lost!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2837107)

Why would you assume that the genetic strains and written data were not housed in the same building? I would assume that both the strains and much data were lost.

Re:Read the damn art, data NOT lost!!! (3, Informative)

Otter (3800) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837293)

...which seem to be strains of yeast. Judging from the lab's page [ucsc.edu] , the connection to the Human Genome Project seems pretty tenuous. It's another yeast genomics lab, with a greater than usual interest in surfing judging by their web cams. I feel bad for them, but this sort of thing does happen -- I lost some samples in the Northridge earthquake and the Allison flooding caused catastrophic damage to the mouse research at UT.

The original story was off base enough, but Slashdot managed to blow it far more out of proportion. Yes, the human genome sequence is backed up, securely and globally.

Re:Read the damn art, data NOT lost!!! (3, Funny)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837490)

So people, don't forgett to backup your genes.

Re:Read the damn art, data NOT lost!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2838937)

backup your genes

"Genes" or "jeans"? Back dat ass up.

Re:Read the damn art, data NOT lost!!! (2)

Alsee (515537) | more than 12 years ago | (#2841543)

So people, don't forgett to backup your genes.

Many readers here can't. Creating a gene backup requires the assistance of a girlfriend/wife.

-

Re:Read the damn art, data NOT lost!!! (2)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 12 years ago | (#2843004)

Many readers here can't. Creating a gene backup requires the assistance of a girlfriend/wife.

That's not a backup, thats a new and different creation which includes only 50% of your genes and 50% of your partners genes, mixed together somewhat randomly (or at least non-predictably by current technologies). Congress and our illustrious president, at the behest of vocal Luddites on both the extreme left and extreme right whose sole unifying characteristic is their complete lack of understanding of the technology, its underlying science, and its implications, are busy making the only known process of backing up one's genes illegal: that of cloning.

No mention of Data ... (5, Insightful)

gus goose (306978) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837096)

Why must we assume that what was lost was data/computers.

From my take on the article, it was physical strands of DNA / biological matter which was lost.

gus

Re:No mention of Data ... (1)

xsus (524566) | more than 12 years ago | (#2838324)

They should have backed up the DNA then...

Re:No mention of Data ... (1)

adlam.bor (547789) | more than 12 years ago | (#2860406)

and worst of all, we lost a great strain of super realistic buggering hamsters. fuck i miss having top quality buggering hamsters. the cheap ones bleed too much, as im sure you know too well.

by the way, how has the herpes treatment been going?

No Backup?!?!?!?!? (2)

Xenopax (238094) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837116)

First rule of database management: back up your data.

I find it amazing that this data would not be backed up. Not to jump to conclusions or anything, but I bet this has to do with some cost cutting measure since it would be expensive to back up such a large amount of data. I guess now we get to see some middle management type sweat because his knuckleheaded decision cost years of research.

Maybe it's for the best though, god only knows what corporations would do after they got this information. After them genome is all figured out, it would be a race to profit, no matter who was hurt. And don't think for a minute this wouldn't be used for all the wrong reasons.

Re:No Backup?!?!?!?!? (1)

m_ilya (311437) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837829)

They could have backup but it could be lost in the fire also. Very often backups do exist but they stored on devices which are phisically located closely.

Sprinkler... (3, Funny)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837120)

Chief Hernandez said the building did not have a sprinkler system because it was built in 1987, before fire codes required one.

Well if it wasn't required, then it wasn't needed really right? Besides, I hear lab equipment and 14 years of research is very cheap these days, much cheaper than decent fire-prevention measures...

The Article (2, Informative)

bihoy (100694) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837132)

January 13, 2002
Years of Data Lost in Fire at University
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

[S] ANTA CRUZ, Calif., Jan. 12 (AP) -- A fire tore through university laboratories here and destroyed genetic research that took years to develop, officials said today.

The fire began early Friday and destroyed the top floor of a laboratory at the University of California at Santa Cruz. It later flared up twice more and destroyed the interior of a second laboratory, said Charles Hernandez, the university's fire chief.

Prof. Manuel Ares Jr., chairman of the Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology Department, said, "It's a devastating situation," and added, "I don't know how far it has set me back."

He said many of the genetic strains in his laboratory had taken 14 years to develop and could take that long to replace. His work was related to the Human Genome Project, a national effort to identify the tens of thousands of genes in human DNA.

Chief Hernandez said the building did not have a sprinkler system because it was built in 1987, before fire codes required one.

The cause

Re:The Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2839672)

This is only redundant if you have registered at www.nytimes.com so you can read articles. Many people find that a cumbersome hurdle when trying to follow links from /. and appreciate the article posting.

Curmudgeons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2846050)

It was penny-wise and pound-foolish for these morons not to instal proper equipment like sprinklers. You'd think a laboratory (where fires are prone to break out) would have such prophylactics implemented.

Backups (4, Insightful)

leastsquares (39359) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837189)

The fire probably didn't destroy much (or any) electronic data. But the genetic strains should have been "backed up" just as any of us know that we should backup our data.

My girlfriend's previous employment was in a lab that appears similar to this blackened one. They carried out research using cell lines with genetic traits that had taken years to develop. These cells can generally be frozen for later use, but since the freezer is in the same building a fire could destroy that too. So they donated cell-lines to other research groups, on the condition that they stored a portion of the sample.

Accidents happen. Data-loss doesn't need to.

Question- has foul play been ruled out? (1, Troll)

gtwreck (74885) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837227)

Who stands to gain the most by a setback in the Human Genome Project? I'm not up on all the details but aren't there several corporations that are trying to "finish" first so they can patent the data before it is released into the public domain? If this is the case then it would be in best interest to slow down the competition...

Perhaps someone can shed some light on this?

Just an idea.

Re:Question- has foul play been ruled out? (2, Funny)

AnalogBoy (51094) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837720)

Don't rule out:

1) Republicans, who fear we may end up finding the "Liberal Democrat" gene.

2) Fundimentalist Christians, who believe we shouldn't learn anything which may give us insight into the workings of God.

3) Democrats, who fear we may find the "can see right through your lies" gene

4) Hardcore, 14 year old Linux Advocates, for fear they may find a gene which will make everyone as 133t as said advocates.

Re:Question- has foul play been ruled out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2838052)

I seem to recall that that was finished several years ago... Yup, that's right you're trolling, especially cause i don't know, i was going to finish writing, but I'm not I think I'll

Re:Question- has foul play been ruled out? (3, Funny)

Spackler (223562) | more than 12 years ago | (#2838085)

Who stands to gain the most by a setback in the Human Genome Project?

God. He get's to keep the insipid sourcecode for these pesky humans closed for a few more years.

Didn't his patent expire yet?

Re:Question- has foul play been ruled out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2841174)

ah ha! obviously trying to remove evidence of dna mutation genes like in x-men.

Possibility of Ecoterrorism? (2)

JMZero (449047) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837259)

Have they narrowed down the cause yet? It's a suspicious sort of target - kind of like a fire at an abortion clinic...

And if they lost important strains it's their own dang fault. Who doesn't have a backup location for storage of something so valuable? I know - this could be their way of cashing in on research that wasn't going anywhere (assuming adequate insurance).

Don't complain - paranoia is par for the course here.

.

I've got the missing data... (5, Funny)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837455)

...and I'll sell it to them for $10 million.


int main( ) {
for int i = 0 to MAX_BASES_NEEDED do
switch ( rand( 4 ) ) do
case 0
print A
break
case 1
print C
break
case 2
print T
break
case 3
print G
break
end
end

return 0
}


Let me just rattle on a bit to try to get past the lameness filter. It seems to me, if the lameness filter really worked, Slashdot might be pretty hungry for comments. I'm not saying I don't make a lot of lameness myself, but calling something like this a "lameness" filter would be like checking if someone is breathing and calling it an intelligence test.

Furthermore, how could a site for "nerds" be set up to filter out a small snippet of source code. Hello! Earth to /.

Anyhow, I'm hoping that if I spew enough lame but not-lame-looking text I can actually post, what I thought was an amusing joke, but /. might thwart my budding comedy career.

In desperation I have now changed my nicely formatted C++ code to pseudo-code.

Re:I've got the missing data... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2837545)

Please log a bug [sourceforge.net]

Re:I've got the missing data... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2838984)

Ironically the rattling on at the end is much funnier than the original joke..

Re:I've got the missing data... (2)

Alsee (515537) | more than 12 years ago | (#2841595)

how could a site for "nerds" be set up to filter out a small snippet of source code.

Posting actual source code could potentially be a violation of the DMCA. Psudocode however has a great enough of an expressive aspect to overcome the functional aspect, and is therefore protected by the first amendment right of free speach.

-

Re:I've got the missing data... (2)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 12 years ago | (#2841686)

You mean God might take me to court for circumventing His encryption!?

No backup? (1)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 12 years ago | (#2837747)

There are as many backups as there are strands of hair on the researchers head (since every strand is a backup). The only problem is the backups are a bit hard to read.

Lost data, don't think so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2838132)

I find it hard to believe that any computer data was lost without a backup. The project was costly and took a while, they must have all their digital data backed up in multiple physical locations. This is rule #1 for all reaserchers. Besides, from the article, it looks that their biggest loss is physical matter, not information data.

----------
No such thing as too connected, - http://www.cryptoheaven.com

Re:Lost data, don't think so. (2, Funny)

mbstone (457308) | more than 12 years ago | (#2839818)

They DID back up the data. Hey, think Santa Cruz, you naturally think RELIABILITY. But the 8" hard sector floppy was hidden in a VW microbus where it was inadvertently resectored by a dog named Fang; the 9-track mag tape was cut into strips to decorate the maypole; and someone is still staring at the CD-ROM looking at all the pretty colors.

Re:Lost data, don't think so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2840843)

You have quite a vivid imagination. I work in the Zhu lab at UCSC where we are studying copper ion toxicity using yeast (my building was not burned down, by the way). The way things work in a college lab is a bunch of people all work on their own experiments and don't have the kind of time to be driving around giving their thesis strains out to other labs that might take the credit and grant money. Since everyone is doing their own thing and might not even be getting paid, storing samples somewhere else becomes more of an issue. I think people are probably thinking about these sorts of issues now though. I heard today that the building might even be closed for 6 months because of chemical spills. Imagine people losing 5 years of PHD research...

As for a bunch of hippies running around, solving some of the most important scientific problems, its hard to believe, but there's really some amazing stuff happening here. The fire started in Manny Ares lab, but Harry Noller's lab was also on that floor. He's been doing some amazing stuff on tRNA and the ribosome, that many consider worthy of a Nobel and could have lost some important stuff, altough I haven't heard yet.

Does anyone who knows something about molecular biology have any good ideas about preserving this sort of data? Obviously some of the people above think you can just send your fragile yeast, bacteria, DNA and Proteins across the internet on a wireless network and store it in a data center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maybe it was (0, Offtopic)

Tri0de (182282) | more than 12 years ago | (#2838667)

Banana Slug Data?

Eco-freaks, probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2838872)

Extremist eco-freak groups like the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front have no problem with destroying years of hard research for the hell of it, even if the results would benefit humanity and nature as a whole. These people have no scruples, only a hard-line ideology that makes an enemy out of technology.

Ironically, most of these so-called "radicals" likely got to and from their arson in gas-guzzling SUVs, paid for by Daddy's credit card and job as a lawyer for one of those "evil corporations."

These people should not only be made to pay for the lost research, but for the lives lost as a result of further research not being available to develop important cures and vaccines. Personally, I think being forced to forage for food in a stinking inner-city core would be perfect justice, as after the first dog bite or cut from a rusty nail, they'll be running to a hospital for some of that exploitative Western medicine.

Stupid, dangerous hypocrites, the lot of them. They should pay the price that their ersatz "rebellion" has cost so many others.

Re:Eco-freaks, probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2840336)

I think it's much more likely that this is the result of some fundamentalist christian group, who perhaps think their 'work' is sanctioned by their fellow in arms, John Ashcroft.

Re:Eco-freaks, probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2841634)

I did not hear about the pope condeming yeast research. Must be thoes southern baptists, or better yet, the musulums. Yea, it is someone with a religion, because we know that all of them are carzy fucks. Yea down with religion. Kill all religion. Burn the religious books. Punish anyone with faith. The fucking carzy, stupid, beleive-anything-their-mothers-tell-them, bastard children of religion.

Instedad of religion, we should all pick a click to be in. My brother is a geek. My dad is a hippie. My sister is a party girl. My best friend is conservationist. My best friends dad is a liberal. I am a punk.

Yea, down with religion.

Some more details... (3, Interesting)

alfredw (318652) | more than 12 years ago | (#2839904)

... on the research, not the fire. If you look at the Professor's homepage [ucsc.edu] , you can see that he was working on:

Our work centers on the mechanisms and regulation of splicing. Splicing is required to remove intron sequences from pre-mRNA and create coding sequences for translation. Yeast has been our organism of choice for these studies because it offers simple, powerful genetic approaches and has a splicing machinery similar to that in mammalian cells. In addition the yeast genome is completely sequenced, the location of nearly every intron is known and genes for most splicing factors have been identified. This provides unique advantages for the study of splicing.

Kinda puts some perspective on what was lost as opposed to "data related to the Human Genome Project."

timothy: up to your old tricks again? (1)

rakslice (90330) | more than 12 years ago | (#2840428)

Data lost? Did you read the article? No, you didn't. Hang your head in shame! =)

p.s. We'll settle for you going away and never coming back. =)

"Fire" , riiiiiight...... (0)

http101 (522275) | more than 12 years ago | (#2842281)

You don't like your car, but the parts are just enough to make a hefty bundle, right? So, how do you start a fire? Exactly. Now if we only knew where the info is really going...

Hmm... (1)

Transcendent (204992) | more than 12 years ago | (#2845922)

::sniff sniff:: Smells like a government coverup to me... ever seen the X-Files?? ...then you know what I mean...
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