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{bio,medical} informatics

Sunday, April 16, 2000

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The New York Times Back to the Future: Medicine and Our Genes
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"SINCE the invention of the stethoscope by the French physician Réné Laennec in 1816, medicine has been troubled by a predicament: the technological advances that have enhanced our ability to diagnose and cure have also distanced us from our patients.

This problem was highlighted recently, when PE Celera Corporation, of Rockville, Md., announced that it had identified the three billion chemical letters of which human genes are made -- a feat accomplished by row upon row of tireless, automated gene-sequencing machines, like something out of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World."

But this time technology has finally advanced far enough that it will enable medicine and medical research to return to some of its best, and most old-fashioned, traditions. In fact, the emerging gene sciences will reunite the patient, doctor and researcher in ways not seen since the 19th and early 20th centuries."
GeneLetter Genetics for all
"The topic of human genetics did not play a prominent role in the health care reform debates that began in the U.S. in the early 1990s. While participants recognized how progress in the field could revolutionize medicine and emphasize prediction and prevention in clinical practice, the reforms proposed for the multi-billion dollar health care industry did not utilize the "genetic card".

"While I am optimistic about technology providing us with new ways to attack important social problems, I do not think it is a cure-all. Making sure everyone can benefit from the new, genetically-informed medicine is a moral and political dilemma as much as a technological challenge. To be properly dealt with, it will require continued broad based, informed public debate and democratic action. "

[ 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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