Researchers are collecting vast amounts of diverse genomic data with ever-increasing speed, but effective ways to visualize these data in an integrated manner have lagged behind the ability to generate them. To address this growing need, researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have developed the Integrative Genomics Viewer (IGV), a novel and freely available visualization tool that helps users simultaneously integrate and analyze different types of genomic data, and gives them the flexibility to zoom in on a specific genomic region of interest or to pan out for a broad, whole-genome view.
“This new tool offers a Google Maps-like view of integrative genomic data,” said Jill Mesirov, chief informatics officer and director of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the Broad Institute. “It brings together different kinds of genomic data into a single, holistic view. I’m incredibly proud of our computational scientists for responding so rapidly and effectively to the critical needs of the growing genomics research community.”
With IGV, researchers can still choose a Google Maps-like “street view” of the A’s, C’s, T’s, and G’s that make up the genome, but they can also simultaneously visualize additional layers of complex information about gene expression as well as sequence alterations, or mutations, in the genetic code. Other genomic details, such as copy number variation, chromatin immunoprecipation data, and epigenetic modifications, can also be viewed in IGV. Moreover, all these data types can be overlaid or superimposed to determine how changes at one level will affect another.
Users can choose from a variety of display options, viewing their data as a heat map, histogram, scatter plot, or other formats of their choice. This new visualization tool is free and publicly available to researchers via the Web.