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About Cell & Molecular Biology Online
Pamela M. Gannon, Ph.D.
The goal of Cell & Molecular Biology Online (CMBO) is to provide a general resource for online information on cell and molecular biology. The resource is designed for research scientists, graduate students and post-docs, educators and students, and anyone looking for relevant information on cell and molecular biology.
CMBO was founded in 1995 and currently receives about 2000 hits a day. The web site is organized into specific topic areas and is updated frequently. It is maintained by just me, Pamela Gannon.
What is my background?
I have a long-standing interest in communication among scientists and communication between scientists and the general public. I started CMBO in 1995 and have worked on online resources for biologists ever since. I developed the Web Resources section of BioMedNet's HMS Beagle as a contributing editor and continue to write for Beagle. I have also published Spider articles in Current Biology. I am an advisor to Nature Reviews: Molecular and Cell Biology.
Why and how did I start CMBO?
The CMBO web site began as one page of several unordered lists with no graphics. The sections included We Recommend, Electronic Publications, Grant Information, Professional Societies and Cool Bio Stuff. I set up the site on a personal account via a local Internet access provider. I kept (and still keep) my files in a simple HTML editor program. Soon afterward, I registered for the domain name cellbio.com. I also registered the CMBO site with the big search engines. I began tracking hits in October 1995 and found that I was getting about 60 hits a day, which I thought was great! When I installed a Guest Book for visitors, I discovered that the readership was wider that I had anticipated and included high school students, graduate students, post-docs and professors and industry researchers.
Much to my surprise, I began to receive an enormous amount of feedback from readers. Many people wrote to ask me where to find particular information on the Internet. As a result of reader's questions and suggestions, I started several new sections of CMBO -- Career Resources, Educational Resources and Methods and Protocols. Many people wrote to recommend interesting web sites they had visited or to inform me of new sites they were designing.
How do I choose resources?
Originally, I did all the surfing for resources myself, predominantly using search engines such as Yahoo! However, when more readers began recommending web sites to me, I did not have to do as much general surfing myself. Working for HMS Beagle gave me an opportunity to encounter and evaluate even more resources on the Web.
I currently receive many recommendations for new sites from people and companies -- which is great! In addition, whenever I write a new article, I find new online resources. I periodically review different sections of CMBO to make sure that the infofmation is current. I evaluate all recommendations and web sites according to the criteria above.
In previous years, I was able to spend some time answering questions from people looking for particular information on the Internet. My goal for these questions was not to give people specific answers, but rather to point them to a resource on the Internet that has the answer for them. Finding the answers to these questions turned out to be an excellent way to locate new resources! Unfortunately, I am currently having a hard time keeping up with the questions I receive and have not been able to answer many in recent times.
How do I maintain the web site?
I work on the web site on my own time, which varies quite a bit. I spend a large portion of my time evaluating new resources for CMBO, as I describe above. Another portion of my time is spent organizing the information on the CMBO site. I like to have all the information separated into logical topic areas so that a reader can look in a particular section for information. I periodically check each section thoroughly to re-evaluate the links and to make sure that I have located all the relevant resources. As the need arises, I add new sections to CMBO (for example, the Perspectives section).
What are the future directions of CMBO?
At the moment, it is I alone running CMBO, so my aspirations are rather modest! I am not making any money from the site, but neither am I spending much. Someday I might look for a corporate sponsor, which would allow me to expand the site.
I am glad that Cell & Molecular Biology Online turned out to be such a useful resource for both students and researchers. The steady amount of feedback I have received has made it possible to keep the web site fresh and current. I hope that CMBO will continue to be a useful place for biologists to visit!