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{bio,medical} informatics

Thursday, March 30, 2000

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JAMIA Integration and Beyond: Linking Information from Disparate Sources and into Workflow
"The vision of integrating information—from a variety of sources, into the way people work, to improve decisions and process—is one of the cornerstones of biomedical informatics. Thoughts on how this vision might be realized have evolved as improvements in information and communication technologies, together with discoveries in biomedical informatics, and have changed the art of the possible. This review identified three distinct generations of "integration" projects. First-generation projects create a database and use it for multiple purposes. Second-generation projects integrate by bringing information from various sources together through enterprise information architecture. Third-generation projects inter-relate disparate but accessible information sources to provide the appearance of integration. The review suggests that the ideas developed in the earlier generations have not been supplanted by ideas from subsequent generations. Instead, the ideas represent a continuum of progress along the three dimensions of workflow, structure, and extraction. "
JAMIA Integration and Beyond: Panel Discussion
"I think one of the toughest things we all have to deal with is updating our dictionaries. In the simplest cases, the name of an organism is changed and we just have to do the maintenance. It is tougher, when, as with Citrobacter, they do genetic studies and say, "Oh, it's really six different organisms, not one." We have the human genome project coming very quickly. Even that is just the tip of the iceberg. We're not only going to see all the genes; we're then going to see clinical tests based on gene expression. Essentially, you'll be able to look at something on the order of 180,000 gene products and whether they're up or down regulated. How are we going to integrate such an incredible amount of data at a time when we're going to also be changing how we think about these processes? Classification and simple mapping are not going to work, because the lumpers and splitters are going to be arguing furiously on a daily basis."

[ rhetoric ]

Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.


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