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  November 25, 2003 [posted]
  Take a Coffee Break

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offee Break is a collection of short stories and interactive tutorials about recent biomedical discoveries. These snapshots of science are short enough to be enjoyed over a cup of coffee but also give a detailed report on a molecular topic.

Since October 2003, Coffee Break has been available on the Bookshelf. Coffee Break still includes molecular insights, links to NCBI resources, and tutorials, but it is now indexed and searchable. Another innovation is the new tutorials that are animated using Macromedia Flash. This enables the reader to take an active part in using NCBI tools to sift through molecular information. These tutorials can also be downloaded enabling teachers to use them in the classroom.

The latest Coffee Break features an interactive tutorial about the hemochromatosis gene, HFE. The reader starts with a summary about the gene and its disease. To investigate the nature of the gene, the student can take part in the Flash tutorial.

In the tutorial, NCBI tools are used to investigate a particular transcript variant of the HFE gene. It is revealed that the transcript contains several SNPs, or single nucleotide polymorphisms. To assess their importance, the student can see whether an amino acid is changed as a result of the SNP, what the nature of this change is, and where the altered amino acid appears in a 3D simulation of the HFE protein.

Coffee Break shows, in an approachable way, the many resources available at NCBI and how powerful they become when used in combination. You can read more about Coffee Break at About Coffee Break.

By Laura Dean
National Center for Biotechnology Information

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Dean L. Take a Coffee Break. NLM Tech Bull. 2003 Nov-Dec;(335):e5.


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Last updated: 20 August 2012