It's time for the annual blog about the annual Nucleic Acids Research (NAR) database issue. This is the 24th database issue for NAR and the seventh blog for @finchtalk. Like most years I have no idea what I'm going to write about until I start reading the new issue. Something always inspires me. This year's inspiration came from missing data.

Computers, biological data (molecular sequences, structures, and other data), websites, and databases are integral to modern research. Innovations like precision, or personalized medicine, expect a certain level of patient participation, and our future food and environmental sustainability will require that society can access a multitude of computer-based resources. Thus, higher education has an important role in providing students with employable skills as well as the ability to use data to make important personal and societal decisions. Toward that goal it is worthwhile ... Read more

Pull a spaghetti noodle out of a box of pasta and take a look.  It's long and stiff.  Try to bend it and it breaks.  But fresh pasta is pliable.  It can fold just like cooked noodles. When students first look at an amino acid sequence, a long string of confusing letters, they often think those letters are part of a chain like an uncooked spaghetti noodle.  Stiff and unbending, with one end far from the other. Molecular modeling apps let us demonstrate that proteins are a bit more like fresh pasta. If we apply rainbow colors (Red Orange Yellow Blue Indigo Violet) to a protein chain, we can ... Read more