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{bio,medical} informatics

Sunday, March 04, 2001

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"That neither of the two groups competing to sequence the genome first -- the publicly funded Human Genome Project (HGP) and the publicly traded Celera -- anticipated a gene count of 30,000 is clear. In their article published in Science on February 12, Celera called the figure of 30,000 a "major surprise," a sentiment echoed by representatives of the HGP. Why were they surprised? How can two separate multimillion dollar scientific projects be that wrong? Because, in the words of the HGP article in Nature's February 12 issue, the figure of 100,000 was "intended only as a back-of-the-envelope estimate."

But -- and this is the puzzle -- if it was just a qualified estimate, why was anyone surprised? In fact, how does an estimate become as the HGP article described, "widely quoted and adopted in many textbooks." "

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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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