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{bio,medical} informatics

Monday, July 24, 2000

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Biospace Genomics - What it is and where it's going
"Genomics can best be defined as the branch of science devoted to the investigation and understanding of genomes. This might sound straightforward enough, but in practice there is no small amount of misuse and misunderstanding of this term. Genomics is not the analysis of individual genes, an endeavor firmly established in the pre-genomics era by the time-honored disciplines of genetics and molecular biology. Rather, genomics treats the genome in its entirety as the unit of investigation. Thus, a genomics scientist who wishes to analyze the consequences for a cell of a mutation, or a change in growth conditions, cannot restrict himself/herself to looking at a selection of the cell’s genes, but must consider all the changes resulting from the introduction to the cell of the perturbagen under investigation. Whilst the desirability of such an approach is clear, allowing for the integration of data from the vast array of cellular pathways into a unified understanding of the cell, the feasibility of such an approach was, until very recently, unconscionable. Remarkably, a series of breathtaking technological advances in the past few years have made genomic approaches a reality, opening up the way towards a new level of understanding of the cell, and also towards a revolution in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries."
Biospace Genomics Primer
"With the announcement of the completion of the Human Genome Project, comes the end of the sequencing stage of the genomic revolution and the start of the post-genomic era. The 3 billion letters of DNA coding the human genome have been fully sequenced, well before the initial target date of 2005. This is an important milestone in the efforts to translate this knowledge into practical uses to benefit humankind. For all of its importance, however, the sequencing of the genome is but a humble first step into the Genomic Era. It provides the letters of a new alphabet and a tantalizing glimpse of the future, but the ultimate payoff will be the successful application of genomics to improve human health and quality of life. Knowledge of the sequence of the human genome is virtually useless in and of itself, much as pages in a foreign script are of little value without a way to decipher the meaning and the intelligence to evaluate that meaning. There exists a tremendous opportunity for companies to intercede at multiple levels in this process with technologies and information that will catalyze the realization of the genomics promise in its ultimate incarnation: novel approaches to improving human health."

[ 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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