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{bio,medical} informatics

Thursday, November 23, 2000

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find related articles. powered by google. The Scientist The State of Bioinformatics
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"In the wake of last June's near completion of the Human Genome Project,1 some scientists are now calling for new agendas and tools for next-phase bioinformatics--the science of understanding the structure and function of genes and proteins through advanced, computer-aided statistical analysis and pattern discovery. Wade Rogers, senior research associate for the Corporate Center of Engineering Research, DuPont Corp., puts it this way: "The human genome is an enormously rich source of fundamental data, but the data's availability is both a blessing and curse. The more data we have to work with, [the more challenging it is] to find fundamental nuggets of useful information buried in that data." He is among those who argue that software, processing, and computational algorithms more powerful than today's will be needed to decipher the functional interactions of multiple genes and proteins--the driving agenda of structural genomics in the near future. "Even though you can never hope to find all the patterns, we need more efficient algorithms that scale polynomially--clever algorithms that enable us to solve problems that are otherwise not solvable," Rogers continues."
find related articles. powered by google. The Scientist Merging IT and Biology
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"Much of the promise of bioinformatics likely lies with the big money and novel approaches of the private sector. At a late October symposium titled "Biosilico 2000," several bioinformatics company executives came together at the Trump Plaza in New York City to discuss the state of the immensely expansive and increasingly heterogeneous field of bioinformatics. Not surprisingly, many touted their products and business plans; but they also discussed and compared philosophies for engaging in the daunting task of applying information technology to biology, chemistry, and medicine.

Sponsored by Scientific American magazine, the symposium, the first of a series to be held annually, addressed the crucial dilemma faced by these companies, many of them only a few years old: How will they and their customers keep from drowning in an ever-increasing sea of raw genomics data that, largely a result of the Human Genome Project, has inundated biology and chemistry? "

find related articles. powered by google. The Scientist New PTO Unit Examines Bioinformatics Applications
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"Last year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) routinely assigned patent applications for bioinformatics inventions to examiners in diverse departments. Then the office made a projection, based on input from companies, that it would receive more than 300 such applications in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. To ensure consistent treatment for the predicted flood of filings, PTO created Art Unit 1631 (AU1631) last December. This unit now consists of 10 examiners holding degrees, sometimes joint ones, in disciplines ranging from biology to physics to electrical engineering.

The deluge, however, never materialized."

find related articles. powered by google. The Scientist Retooling for Bioinformatics
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"To retool for a job in bioinformatics first requires some considerations. You need to ask yourself: "What kind of job do I want? Research at a pharmaceutical firm or genomics start-up? Teaching and research in academia? Or, do I really want to learn the latest tools to enhance my molecular biology research?"

The most flexibility for jobseekers, says Hunter, is in pharmaceutical firms and biotech companies because the demand is the greatest there. At the very least when looking for a position in bioinformatics you'll need to exhibit an interest and basic skills, which can be picked up through mini-courses, summer courses, and other venues, to land an entry-level job at a larger company. It also helps if your biological expertise is in an area in which the firm is interested, such as G-coupled receptor proteins. But, he cautions, "funding issues alone are not enough of a motivation," to move into bioinformatics.

Specialists emphasize that there's a big difference between using informatics tools and inventing new ones. If you're serious about inventing new tools or about a more senior-level position, then you'll need some formal training in computer science, says Hunter. He adds that this is not just about programming. "You'll need to know about data structures, computational complexity, and numeric methods."

[ 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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