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{bio,medical} informatics

Thursday, June 22, 2000

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Wired Genome Mappers to Make Amends
"Scientists in the government and for-profit sectors are keeping the public guessing as to how and when they will announce they've finished mapping all of the genetic material that makes up a human.

Reports are conflicting. On Tuesday The Wall Street Journal said that the White House would be hosting a joint announcement on Monday, but a White House spokesman later denied the report. Researchers also say the report was premature."

""I think this is a great time in biology. I would describe it as the beginning of thousands of races," [Incyte's] Whitfield said. "If you have colon cancer, the race is about curing colon cancer. If you have arthritis, it's a race to cure arthritis. It's the start of a really long race to have a tremendous impact on human health."
BioInform As Celera Nears Finish Line, Myers Prepares for Post-Assembly
"Gene Myers, who gained notoriety in the pages of The New Yorker last week as a perpetually chilled, Nerf gun-shooting, emerald earring-wearing computer scientist, is the brain behind Celera’s assembly project. But assembling the human genome sequence, a task Myers and his team are expected to complete any day now, is just the first stage in his career at Celera, where he is director of informatics research.

After assembly, computational biologists will have their work cut out for them, Myers told BioInform. “I don’t think that our tools and capabilities in assisting biologists to investigate whole genomes at systemic levels are up to par. The right tools and right infrastructures have not been built.”

While existing tools are good, lack of integration is the weak link, Myers asserted. “What you are striving for is to allow a biologically focused investigator to sit down at a machine and generate conjectures for experiments,” he said. “I don’t think anyone’s gotten near the right formula for that.”"

[ 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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