Scientists had to change the names of 27 human genes due to the peculiarity of Excel

Scientists had to change the names of 27 human genes due to the peculiarity of Excel

The auto-write feature found in Excel in Microsoft Office is usually very helpful. Especially when you need to fill tables with the same type of parameters. However, as the practice of genetic scientists has proven, it can turn out to be a real nightmare. The committee of the international organization for the study of the human genome (Human Genome Organization, HUGO) even had to change the names of 27 human genes because of her.

As resource points out The verge, the Excel program incorrectly recognized the designations of some genes, translating them into dates. For example, the abbreviation MARCH1 (Membrane Associated Ring-CH-Type Finger 1) was converted by the program to the date 1-Mar (“March 1”). As a result, this led to computational errors that had to be corrected manually. According to statistics for 2016, this feature of Exсel led to the fact that every fifth scientific study contained erroneous data.

At the same time, you cannot mark automatic formatting, the only way out is to do it manually in the selected columns of the table. But if after that another user uses the table on their device, automatic formatting will work again.

Excel is a versatile tool, so it’s no surprise that scientists around the world use it. And the transition to the use of other software would create a lot of inconveniences for the scientific community.

According to HUGO coordinator Elspeth Bruford, many scientific teams face the problem of auto-formatting in Excel. At Microsoft, this feature is unlikely to be considered a bug or a flaw in the program. Therefore, the committee decided to follow the principle of least resistance. He released new guidelines for the naming of human genes, taking into account the peculiarities of Excel. Now the MARCH1 gene was called MARCHF1, SEPT1 – SEPTIN1, and so on.

If you notice an error, select it with the mouse and press CTRL + ENTER.

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