#Badomics word of the year already? Yup. The ‘Consciousome’ from Deepak Chopra

Oh my.  As many out there know I have a thing with “badomics” words.  These are words someone has invented where they have added the ome suffix on to the word to try and capture some of the hype of genomics.  And though many many people do this, the ones I call “badomics” words are the ones where the ome addition is all hype and no use.  And this AM I was informed of a doozy via Twitter:

And so I went to the link and found this: Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative — A New Frontier ‘Consciousome’ | Deepak Chopra and Rudolf E. Tanzi.  And what I found there was almost a textbook example of how to create a badomics word.  Here is the critical paragraph

The current frontier in brain research, to map the entire connectivity of the brain, the so-called connectome project, points to an even more exciting frontier, the “consciousome.” This takes the brain to the next level, where we need to explore how our conscious choices may liberate us from biology-as-destiny. Our conscious choices and reactions to life experiences remodel the neural circuitry of our brains and, now, we need to explore the effects on our genomes.

Just what is the consciousome?  I cannot tell.  But it has something to do with genomics.  And with consciousness.  Hmm.  They try to clarify later on

Where the connectome is like a diagram of all the telephone wiring in a city, the consciousome embraces the conversations taking place using the wiring.

Not really helping.  So – what does it have to do with genomics?  Unclear until later

By opening up the genetic doorway to consciousness, however, we take a leap forward. For example, recent studies indicate that meditation can have a strong effect on the length of chromosome telomeres, the nucleotide sequences that protect chromosomes from the deterioration linked to aging. That these beneficial effects occur immediately indicates just how responsive genetic activity is to mind-body interventions — something never previously suspected.

So – the consciousome is the affect of conscious thought on the genome?  Whether or not you think this is something worth studying, the slapping on of the ome term on the end of consciousness is a self directed thought that should never have been done.  There is no entity that is the consciousome.  The term makes no sense.  It is certainly a badomics word of grand magnificence.

I note – there is some seriously bizarre other stuff in this article like the following:

In our Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative, a 100-subject study to map biological transformation, leaders in the fields of healthcare, art, business, environment, sports, entertainment, science and technology will be given a protocol to measure new genetic activity, searching for positive evolutionary effects

What?  How exactly are they searching for “positive evolutionary effects” and what does that even mean?  And why do this with the “leaders in the fields …”. How are they supposed to be different?

And also

This “soft inheritance,” in which the parents’ life experiences and behavior may directly influence the genome of their offspring (transmitted via the epigenome), is arguably the most profound “living legacy” we can pass along to our children.

So now they have gone from a few studies in mice showing epigenetic inheritance of a few things to the “most profound living legacy we can pass along to our children”.  Uggh.  Talk about overselling genomics – this is overselling a word / field that does not even exist yet and the word certainly should not exist ever.  Personally, I think brain science is very very interesting and important.  Let’s not cloud it up by coining new fuzzy terms, trying to capture the hype of genomics, and overselling the science.  And for this, Deepak Chopra, Rudolf Tanzi and their coauthors Tara Sheahan, Gina Murdock, and
Glenda Greenwald are winners of the coveted “Worst New Omics word award.”

Badomics word of the year? Nutrimetabonomics

So I guess a thank you is owed to Joseph McPhee for this tweet:

The link in the tweet is to this paper.

Nutrimetabonomics: Applications for Nutritional Sciences, with Specific Reference to Gut Microbial Interactions – Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, 4(1):

Wow. Nutrimetabonomics.  In a paper.  And amazingly they had a conference on this too. 11th-13th April 2012- First Nutrimetabonomics Workshop to consider …  I do not even know what to say.  This is NOT a good omics word.  It is definitely a bad bad bad omics word.  A very bad one (note – the field might be interesting .. the word however is bad).

For more on #Badomics words see

#Badomics word of the day, week and month: the morphome

Well, I have been avoiding the badomics meme for a little bit but cannot help getting back into it for this one.  From this paper: BMC Biology | Full text | The songbird syrinx morphome: a three-dimensional, high-resolution, interactive morphological map of the zebra finch vocal organ.  Yes, that is right – rolls right off the tongue – the songbird syrinx morphome.

The key sentence assigning guilt for this

“Here we present an annotated high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) morphological dataset, which we have dubbed a morphome,”

Note – I love the move for more high throughput, digital morphological data.  It rocks.  It will make for some interesting science.  It however, does not deserve it’s own ome word.

For more on this meme see All my writings on badomics words.

H/T David Coil …

A badomics word for good purposes: new paper on the "ridiculome"

Quick post here.  There is a new paper in BMC Biology which uses a bad omics word in the paper and in the title: BMC Biology | Full text | Logic modeling and the ridiculome under the rug.  Fortunately they are using the term to poke a bit of fun at people who think genomics will solve all of their research problems.

OMG – Without a doubt the worst omics word ever – The Sexome

I really have nothing to say here.  I just got pointed to a new paper by Thiago Venancio.  The paper is – I kid you not: Understanding the Sexome: Measuring and Reporting Sex Differences in Gene Systems.  I don’t have access to the paper but here is the abstract which is all you need

The current male bias in biomedical research should be eliminated. The large sex differences in incidence and progression of diseases mean that sex-biased factors are an untapped source of factors that protect from disease. Greater understanding will come from intensified study of the “sexome,” which is the sum of sex-biased effects on gene networks and cell systems. The global search for sites and mechanisms of sex-specific regulation in diverse tissues will provide unanticipated insights into physiological regulation and targets for novel therapies.

That is without a doubt the worst omics word I have ever seen.  All my previous posts about bad omics words pale in comparison (though I encourage you to read them: Worst New Omics Word Award and bad omics word of the day).

Worst new omics word award: circomics – running circles around my head

Wow – this is really not a good “omics” word.  Check out this paper title and it’s abstract Circular DNA genomics (circomics) exemplified for g… [Virology. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI

Circomics was coined to describe the combination of rolling circle amplification (RCA), restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and pyro-sequencing to investigate the genome structures of small circular DNAs. A batch procedure is described using 61 plant samples from Asia, South America and Central America which revealed 83 contig sequences of geminiviral DNA components and 4 contig sequences of DNA satellites. The usefulness of this approach is validated for the Brazilian begomoviruses, and the sequence fidelity is determined by comparing the results with those of conventional cloning and sequencing of Bolivian begomoviruses reported recently. Therefore, circomics has been proven to be a major step forward to economize costs and labor and to characterize reliably geminiviral genomes in their population structure of the quasi species.

This definitely fits the category of a “bad omics” word which I have history of complaining about but had been ignoring for a bit.  But I am back.  I am giving “Circomics” a “Worst New Omics Word Award” here because, well, it seems completely unnecessary and distracting.

Hat tip to AJ Cann for pointing this one out on Google Plus.

#badomics word for the week: nascentome

Here is a #badomics word to ponder – the nascentome

From this paper PLoS ONE: Nascentome Analysis Uncovers Futile Protein Synthesis in Escherichia coli

It was called to my attention via twitter:

 ayrrisBIO – Appistry 

Awe MT  But it’s so new. Give nascentome a chance. RT  word: The ‘nascentome’:
 Aaron Best 

But it’s so fresh and new. Give nascentome a chance. RT word: The ‘nascentome’: 
 Malcolm M. Campbell 

Worthy candidate for  word of the year: ‘nascentome’. Blech.  via 

 word: The ‘nascentome’:  

It is a really bad omits word.  So we are giving it an award.  Not sure which one yet.  But one of these:

Good words on bad omics words: "A crisis in postgenomic nomenclature" from 2002

Just got pointed to a fun paper from 2002 “A Crisis in Postgenomic Nomenclature by Stanley Fields and Mark Johnston” by Mark Johnston himself. Their paper, in Science, is available for free on Stanley Fields website here. It is actually a hilarious tongue in cheek read where they proceed from arguing for more specificity in omics names (e.g., they go so far as to propose a EC# like system with things such as the “” and also that conditions should be specified like the “37°-7.4-G1-Golgi-N-but-not- 63 O-linked glycosylome”.  And they end with a proposal to replace the term “the cell” with either the someone or the omesome.  It is definitely worth a read.

End (at least for while) of the bad omics word awards

Well this is it. I am declaring that I am (mostly) done with the posts about bad omics words. I will on occasion I am sure rail about one word or another with my Worst New Omics Word Award, but I will try to let ome words rest in peace, at least for a while. Mostly this is because the task is too overwhelming.  There are simply too many bad omics words out there.

I would like to note however, that as I have browsed around, I have noticed many other bloggers doing similar occasional snarky complaints about omics words here and there. That was good to see. But most amazing was that there is in fact published literature on the topic of bad omics words. See for example The Wholeness in Suffix -omics, -omes, and the Word Om and apparently[The odd omes and omics] (which is in Finnish) and many others.
My favorite published rant even has rant in the title “A rant against jargon and neologisms“. It is definitely worth a read and is free in Pubmed Central. In it, Simon Young says many things I agree with. In particular the ending

This does not mean that these terms are not useful. However, as with all new terms, they will help to promote knowledge and ideas only if their precise meaning becomes known to a broad range of researchers. Only time will tell what will become a useful scientific term and what will remain the jargon of a subgroup of researchers.

The best discussion I have seen of the issue is by none other than the great Joshua Lederberg (may he rest in peace) who wrote ‘Ome Sweet ‘Omics — A Genealogical Treasury of Words with Alexa McCray. In it they discuss the history of the word genomics, among others. They also quote Roland Brown author of “Composition of Scientific Words”

“words, when they make their debut in scientific or literary society … should be simple, euphonious, pure and mnemonically attractive.”

Clearly many of the new omics words do not meet this criteria but I am going to leave that for others to (help) judge. If you personally want to see some lists of the every growing number of omics words, check out any/all of the following:

Bad omics word of the day: connectome

Well, I have decided that I need to look beyond just new omic words to snark about here (I have been giving a “Worst New Omics Word Award” every once in a while”). So I am now going to post, as often as I can, a little ditty about any bad omics word that is out there. Yesterday’s winner was “phenogenomics” which I posted only to twitter.

Today’s winner is “connectome” (see for example NIH Launches the Human Connectome Project to Unravel the Brain’s Connections, July 15, 2009 News Release – National Institutes of Health (NIH)). I think it’s first major use was here but not sure. It even has a wikipedia entry which says:

A connectome is a detailed map of the full set of neurons and synapses within the nervous system of an organism. The production and study of such a map is known as connectomics.

Now I am not the first to be a bit annoyed by this word (e.g., see the Neurochannels blog post “Review of Seung’s talk at SFN”:

Incidentally, ‘connectomics’ is a cheesy mouthful of a word. Some words just weren’t meant to be biologized with the -omics suffix, and ‘connect’ is one of them. ‘Genomics,’ cool. ‘Proteomics,’ a little annoying and not very creative. ‘Connectomics,’ stop the bus I want to get off. At the very least let’s reserve the -omics for molecular biology. Thank goodness Bialek didn’t try to pull us into the world of ‘infomics.

Hat tip to Karl Broman for pointing this one out in comments here.

As with posts about other omes and omics words, I am not saying anything really at all about the science behind the word here. Just the word.