Jinfo BlogMy Favourite Tipples from a patent and biotech information specialist

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By Anne Barker

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My Favourite Tipples are shared by Anne Barker, an information specialist in the legal department at Genentech. Anne shares some of her preferred resources in areas from patents to healthcare conference posters and human gene databases.


As an information specialist in the legal department of a large biotech company, detailed and comprehensive scientific and patent information take equal priority in my daily information needs. I have to find global information in languages I don't speak or read and use web-based resources that are frequently being redesigned. These are some of the resources I use:

  • European Patent Office's Virtual Helpdesk: This began as the EPO's Asian Helpdesk but has expanded its coverage to additional Eastern and Middle Eastern countries. Although many patent offices have English portions of their websites, the English-language databases and search tools are typically scaled back. The EPO's detailed guides for navigating patent office websites in foreign languages have been invaluable to me. It also provides helpful FAQs on the patent system in each country covered and tells you if a country's patent information is not currently available to search.

  • De Werkgemeenschap Octrooi-informatie Nederland (WON) public patent information sources: A Dutch association of patent information specialists maintains this portal to the resources of patent offices around the world. Individual patent offices seem to routinely silo information for things like basic patent bibliographic information, file histories, full-text PDFs of patent publications and machine translation resources. WON's deep links into the available databases provide direct access to sites that are often difficult to navigate.

  • PosterSessionOnline: Sponsored by healthcare companies, this system assists researchers in creating posters for conferences. Posters created through it are uploaded and archived in a virtual gallery, where they can be consulted once the conference has started. Coverage is limited to the healthcare industry; access is agreed to in advance by the conference organisers. Using advanced search features on your favourite search engine is currently the best way to locate posters from conferences featured. For example: [AUTHOR or KEYWORD site:postersessiononline.eu].

  • GeneCards: I am amazed by the number of ways specific genes can be referenced in the scientific literature. When pulling synonyms for a keyword search, GeneCards is a great starting point. It's a searchable, integrated database of human genes that extracts and integrates information from more than 100 sources, resulting in a fairly comprehensive synonym list. I also appreciate the inclusion of direct links to gene records in OMIM, UniProt, HGNC, Ensembl and Entrez Gene - there's almost always at least one more name variation located in those records.

For fun:

  • I love Hidden Scotland - it highlights many places my husband and I missed on our trips. The interactive itinerary builder is a great way to focus on attractions of interest, and the photos are amazing. The companion Hidden Scotland Instagram feed provides dreamy nuggets and I love the multi-photo format.

An article in Jinfo I found particularly interesting:

  • I enjoyed Diane Thieke's "How to transform your thinking for the AI revolution". Although it may be comforting to hear that most current and in-development AI efforts are limited to automating fairly routine tasks, this article recognises that situation won't last forever, or even much longer. I appreciated Diane's insights into the various ways information professionals can become embedded in, not overtaken by, these advancements.

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