Document Type


Degree Name



Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology


Oregon Health & Science University


Abstract Genotypes and phenotypes are fundamental to many areas of the life sciences. Biomedical and animal model databases contain a wealth of information about genetics, genomics, embryonic development, phenotypes, and diseases, presenting biomedical researchers the opportunity to uncover human disease mechanisms. Currently, however, investigators lack suitable informatics tools to e ectively meet the challenge of traversing these rich datasets, synthesizing the biology described therein, and identifying gaps in our knowledge that need further research. In this study, I address the question of how a visual analytics tool can help scientists investigate these important biological relationships. I developed a prototype of a tool that enables users to visually explore connections between human and animal model data rendered as a network graph. Two iterations of a prototype were produced, including mockups and a functional software-based application. A small group of users was recruited to provide feedback, identify needs, and evaluate the prototype's usability. With different user interface design and evaluation approaches from which to choose and a brief time frame in which to conduct the study, I employed a user-centered design philosophy, qualitative "discount" evaluation methods, and software libraries wellvii suited to making a visually appealing and highly responsive interface. The study generated abundant high-quality user feedback, a generally usable early software prototype, and a comprehensive set of recommendations for subsequent tool development, confi rming the e ffectiveness of these choices.




School of Medicine



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