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{bio,medical} informatics

Saturday, June 17, 2000

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The New York Times Outgrowth of Landmark Framingham Study
[requires 'free' registration]
"In what some call a taste of the future of genetic medicine, Boston University has created a company to analyze a valuable cache of medical data from a federally financed study that has lasted 52 years. The university expects that companies will want to use the data to facilitate the search for new drugs."

"... new company, Framingham Genomic Medicine, supported by $21 million from venture capitalists, will assemble the study's data in ways useful to companies or scientists. For example, researchers seeking clues to genes and environments that protect against heart disease will be able to sift through participants' medical histories and genetic data to home in on the information they want."

""This is the beginning of a new era," said Dr. Arthur Holden, chairman and chief executive of the SNP Consortium, a collaboration of 14 companies, mostly drug makers, that are creating a publicly available map of the human genome, concentrating on individual places on DNA where people differ. "The demand for genetic databases is beginning to increase, and many of the leading university centers are beginning to think about how they can commercialize their samples and data sets.""
Stanford Medical Informatics Preprint Archive Bioinformatics in Support of Molecular Medicine
"Basic biological science has always had an impact on clinical medicine (and clinical medical information systems), and is creating a new generation of epidemiologic, diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment modalities. Bioinformatics efforts that appear to be wholly geared towards basic science are likely to become relevant to clinical informatics in the coming decade. For example, DNA sequence information and sequence annotations will appear in the medical chart with increasing frequency. The algorithms developed for research in bioinformatics will soon become part of clinical information systems. In this paper, I briefly review the intellectual roots of bioinformatics and how the field has evolved in the last few years. Fortunately, a core set of scientific paradigms have provided a focus to the field. Even in this short period, however, there has been a change in the nature of the questions being asked and the types of experiments being attempted. These changes are consistently leading bioinformatics towards problems of clinical relevance. Some molecular biology information systems already have important clinical implications. I will discuss the differences in the culture and approach to science of clinical informatics and bioinformatics, but will argue that the two disciplines share important intellectual challenges which make them very closely allied fields (despite the cultural differences). Finally, I will identify a few areas common to both disciplines where developments in one field may help catalyze faster progress in the other. For example, useful database integration technologies have (arguably) matured more rapidly within bioinformatics than in clinical informatics. At the same time, clinical informatics embraced the idea of controlled terminologies relatively early, and offers lessons to those in bioinformatics attempting similar tasks."

[ 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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