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{bio,medical} informatics

Sunday, May 28, 2000

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Washington Post When Genes Tell the Story
"Suddenly, I'm picturing a new conclusion to "Casablanca," in which Rick walks up to the teary-faced Ilsa as she's about to board the plane with her husband and says: "I was gonna tell you that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. But then I saw your BRCA-1 code. Baby, you're staring at the c-stuff. Let's just stay here and party to the bitter end."

"In the Brave New World ahead, are we (and the characters who reflect us) going to run dry of choice? Are we doomed to a movie-viewing future of genetically savvy detectives who catch their man armed with a genetoscope? I mean, what if Jack Nicholson were to turn his back on Faye Dunaway in "Chinatown" because, well, he'd already checked out that family incest history at the GenBank file at the National Institutes of Health."
redux [03.08.00]
New Scientist A gene profiling system threatens to reveal your innermost secrets
"WILL "DNA chips" that reveal your genetic makeup within minutes prove to be awesome medical tools or the means of genetic discrimination? We could find out sooner than anyone expected. A British biotech start-up has filed for a patent on a device that can detect variants of over 2500 genes--including genes that affect behaviour and intelligence."

""Where Genostic comes up with thousands of gene variants to put on their chip is a mystery to me," says Francis Collins, director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute near Washington DC. Daniel Cohen, chief genomics officer at Genset of Paris, agrees. "There haven't been enough population studies, as far as I know, to assess with enough precision the risk or predisposition for any of the diseases mentioned in the patent," he says.

redux [04.25.00]
UniSci Selfish Gene Theory Of Evolution Called Fatally Flawed
"In the current issue of Advances in Complex Systems (February-April), Dr. Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute and an expert on the application of mathematical analysis to complex systems, contends that the selfish-gene theory of evolution is fatally flawed.

If his mathematical proof gains general acceptance, it will shut the door on controversial "gene-centered" views of evolution.

Bar-Yam, in the upcoming article, proves that the "selfish gene" approach is not valid in the general case. He demonstrates that the gene-centered view, expressed in mathematical form, is only an approximation of the dynamics actually at work."

"The key to Bar-Yam's analysis lies in recognizing three levels of structure in nature: the gene, the organism and the group (or network) of organisms."

[ 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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