The International Society for Developmental Biologists 2017 meeting is taking place in Singapore from 18 – 22 June, and we’re currently putting the finishing touches to our exhibit. On stand 11, Emily and Chris will be able to show you detailed phenotype data for embryonic lethal knockout mouse lines, together with high resolution images of the embryos, like this Actn4 knockout embryo with abnormal lens epithelium morphology. You’ll also be able to try out our database at where you can search and analyse all DMDD data free of charge.



While you’re there you can pick up a free DMDD mug, along with promotional flyers for our database.


DMDD promotional mugs
Sign up to our mailing list at the meeting to get a free DMDD mug.


We’re excited to be sharing the stand with our colleagues from eMouseAtlas, so you can also find out more about their digital atlas of mouse development. We look forward to meeting you!


The joint BSCB/BSDB/Genetics Society Spring Meeting is taking place at the University of Warwick from 2 – 5 April, and DMDD will be there to exhibit our data. Come and visit our stand to find out more about phenotype data for embryonic lethal knockout mice.

Emily, Dorota, Emma and Jenna from the DMDD team will be on hand to give you a demo of the data and answer any questions you might have. You can even take away a free mug if you sign up to our email newsletter.


DMDD promotional mugs
Sign up to our mailing list at the meeting to get a free DMDD mug.


On Wednesday 5 April, Myriam Hemberger from the Babraham Institute will speak about her team’s work to phenotype placentas from DMDD embryonic lethal lines. Plus if you’re interested in our recent publications, you can visit one of the three posters we’re presenting:

Poster 66: Staging mouse embryos harvested on embryonic day 14 (E14.5). (Original article in Journal of Anatomy).

Poster 77: Highly variable penetrance of abnormal phenotypes in embryonic lethal knockout mice. (Original article in Wellcome Open Research).

Poster 83: Interpreting neonatal lethal phenotypes in mouse mutants.


We’re looking forward to meeting you!


The 2016 Autum meeting of the British Society for Developmental Biology starts this Sunday in Edinburgh, and DMDD will be exhibiting there together with our colleagues from the e-Mouse Atlas project. After a successful DMDD exhibit at the joint BSDB/BSCB Spring meeting back in April, we’re excited to be attending ‘The use of chimeras to study developmental mechanisms: from lineage tracing to disease models’.


Pop over to our stand on Monday and chat to Jenna (DMDD’s science communications manager) or Chris (from e-Mouse Atlas) to find out more about both projects. We’ll give you live demos of our data, and let you know how the tools we provide could help your research (even if you don’t study mice!)

We’re currently adding the finishing touches to the DMDD flyers, and here’s a sneak preview…

DMDD promotional flyers.
Promotional materials for the BSDB Autumn meeting.

So there will be plenty of materials for you to take away, and we’ll also have a scientific poster showing some of our results.

But if that’s not enough to tempt you over to the stand, you can also enter a competition to win a £50 Amazon voucher by simply subscribing to the DMDD mailing list.

We’re looking forward to meeting you! If you can’t make the meeting we’ll be tweeting with the hashtag #BSDB2016.


At our BSCB/BSDB exhibitor stand, we created a little web testing station, complete with ‘booth’ – the computer and user are hidden behind our poster board in this photo. Volunteers were asked to spend 10 minutes testing our website, and in return were entered into a prize draw for a £50 Amazon voucher – won by Dr Seyed Beati, from the University of Dundee.

Our stand at the BSCB/BSDB meeting
Our stand at the BSCB/BSDB meeting



Volunteers were asked to complete some short tasks on our website, which were recorded using Silverback, a usability testing tool. Silverback not only records the user’s actions on screen, highlighting where they click. It also records a small image of the user, and although it doesn’t do eye-tracking it does allow us to see if users are looking all over the screen, or frowning or looking puzzled. Silverback does all of this unobtrusively, so that users are not distracted by their own image in a video; the only indicator that they are being recorded is the camera light. The movies generated can then be reviewed to see how easy or difficult specific tasks are for users.

This is the first time we’ve done user testing with a group of people, and although it was time-consuming, the information we gathered made it worth the effort, and made us look at the website through users’ eyes. We’ve now reviewed the movies, made notes of what we observed and categorised these observations.



Many of them are small things that are relatively trivial to fix. For example, we thought our website feedback link (Usersnap) on the right of the screen would be easily spotted as nothing else is around it. But it turns out that’s not the case – it seems that because no other content is near it, no-one actually looks there! So, it will be moved to the top right of the page, where most users naturally look for help.

The website feedback link, currently on the right at the edge of the screen.
The website feedback link, currently on the right at the edge of the screen.



Some of the more challenging fixes relate to the usability of the Stack Viewer, our online tool for exploring the HREM data. We made a lot of observations about how the controls are used on this page, and the problems with the current interface. One thing that we noticed was that the buttons to change orthogonal views are separate from the thumbnail images in the sidebar that show the view switching, so we’ll be bringing these together. In fact we’ll be bringing all the controls into a single ‘control panel’, rather than some on the side and some in the view pane.

Stack Viewer showing embryo thumbnails and buttons to select different orthogonal views.
Stack Viewer showing embryo thumbnails and buttons to select different orthogonal views.


The other parts of the website that presented challenges to users were Search and the ‘line page’, which shows all of the data for a particular gene. We have new search functionality already under development, and will now add in some additional changes to make this work better for users.

The line page is one of the busiest pages on the site, and we knew before the testing that it needed some improvements. The test results show us that we need to provide more context on the page to show users what’s what, and to make the actions that can be taken more prominent and easily understood (otherwise known as affordance).

Across the site we’ll also be adding more tooltips, to provide contextual help and information next to where the user is looking, as well as breadcrumb trails to help orient users.


We wouldn’t be able to make these improvements without your input, so we’d like to say a huge thanks to everyone who gave ten minutes of their time!


The BSCB/BSDB Joint Spring Meeting at the University of Warwick starts today, and the DMDD team are getting ready to meet you. Visit stand 18 during one of the conference breaks to find out how our database of embryonic-lethal mouse lines could help your research. And there are prizes to be won too…

BSCB/BSDB meeting logo



If you’re wondering what to do with that spare half an hour between sessions, why not enter our origami mouse competition? Pick up some instructions at our stand and bring your completed mouse back to us no later than 2pm on Tuesday.

Origami mouse in pink flower paper


A £50 gift card is on offer for the best entry. But prepare to be challenged, as it’s no easy task!

We’ll announce the winner on Twitter before the end of the meeting. Follow us @dmdduk to find out if you’ve won.



Dilbert cartoon strip
Image courtesy of

With your help we want to make our website even easier to use. Spend five minutes testing it, and we’ll enter you into another prize draw to win a £50 gift card.

You’ll be given a few short tasks to complete on the website, and software will track and record your movements on screen. It will film you too. Later on we’ll review which areas of the screen you were looking at, and whether you looked particularly frustrated. This means we can work out which parts of the website we haven’t got quite right.

We’re looking forward to meeting you!