Featured Research

Lollipops Software Automates and Simplifies Genomic Data Analysis

November 08, 2016

The new user-friendly Lollipops software from the UNC Charlotte Bioinformatics Services Division is a one-stop shop for processing genotyping data and reporting results that are both concise and organized into meaningful graphics. The interface is usable by both non-technical users and bioinformaticists alike, and it requires minimal manual intervention.

UNC Charlotte Research Associate Dr. Jeremy Jay was involved throughout the Lollipops software design process, from talking with clients and developing the software, to integrating it with the existing cancer genomics pipeline. The UNC Charlotte Bioinformatics Services Division is located at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis, with 12 scientists and staff working to apply novel computational technologies to solve important scientific problems.

Integrating with existing genomic pipelines

Jay worked with a hospital on a cancer genotyping project. “If they wanted to take their data and turn results around quickly to analyze and take action, there wasn’t a simple visualization tool for that,” Jay says. With the Lollipops software, the client could connect their existing genomic pipeline and receive a graphic illustration of the significant results within a few seconds, a process that used to take much longer.

The software works by streamlining the data processing steps involved with analyzing genetic data. “When you obtain a sample from someone, whether it’s for research or to be used in a clinical setting, the sample must be sent to a lab, processed, sequenced, and then annotating so you know whether there are mutations in the data that are actionable or if further research is needed,” Jay says. “Our Lollipops software visualizes the results together with the rest of the report so that someone can actually understand it quickly.”



The cost of genomic studies is decreasing due to high-throughput next-generation sequencing technologies. High levels of detail are now more attainable by clinicians, making precision medicine faster and more affordable. Massive amounts of data accompany access to higher levels of detail, but there must be a way to process and understand the data efficiently to make sense of it all. The user-friendly characteristics of the new Lollipops software transform raw data into meaningful graphics, allowing clinicians the unique opportunity to pinpoint individual differences in DNA and estimate therapeutic effectiveness.

Improving research projects

With the source code available online for use by bioinformatics software developers, hospitals, and research groups, all that is left to do is wait for any feedback that users might provide. Jay plans on listening to requests and making small bug fixes, but he’s trying to “not add too much to it. It’s all about simplicity and ease of integration.” Integrating this software into existing genomic pipelines will help hospitals and research groups generate meaningful data with less effort and time spent on the project.

Read the full article, “Lollipops in the Clinic: Dense Mutation Plots for Precision Medicine,” here. Get the source code and binaries for the Lollipops software here.

Learn more about UNC Charlotte Bioinformatic Services Division.

By Kara Marker, NCRC Marketing

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