The Allen Institute for Brain Science, a nonprofit medical research organization in Seattle, Washington, has released an application programming interface (API) to allow scientists and programmers to create new software to traverse their growing database of neuroscience data.
The Allen Institute is developing a growing database of gene expression and neuro-anatomical data with a size currently in the order of petabytes (millions of gigabytes). All of the data is publicly available through the Allen Brain Atlas Resources website.
The API is essentially a set of development tools which enable easier access and sharing of the public database. It provides a powerful way to access data across species, ages, disease and control states, allowing for data analysis across data types and samples. According to the website, the API includes access to the following datasets:
- High resolution images for gene expression, connectivity, and histology experiments, as well as annotated atlas images
- 3-D expression summaries registered to a reference space for the Mouse Brain and Developing Mouse Brain
- Primary microarray results for the Human Brain and Non-Human Primate
- RNA sequencing results for the Developing Human Brain
- MRI and DTI files for Human Brain
The API contains the following resources:
- RESTful model access
- Image download service
- 3-D expression summary download service
- Differential expression search services
- NeuroBlast correlative searches
- Image-to-image synchronization service
- Structure graph download service
The API was launched last week at a hackathon hosted by the the Allen Institute for Brain Science. The event was attended by scientists and programmers from industry and academia. Source code from the event will be released through the Allen Brain Atlas data portal during their next public data release next October and through the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility website.