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{bio,medical} informatics

Monday, July 02, 2001

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find related articles. powered by google. Wired News Building a Database of Specimens

"Earlier this month, 18 nations agreed to establish the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) in Copenhagen, which will establish a standard method for data exchange about such specimens for researchers in different countries. By developing a kind of online phone book of the world's major plant and animal collections, the potential for new scientific discoveries could be huge."

"But the big task right now is just getting the stuff online. As a database project, it could make the Human Genome Project look simple by comparison."

""Man has been collecting biological data for centuries," said Dr. John Curran, assistant chief of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization's division of Entomology (aka insects). "The genome people had the advantage in that they started collecting and working with their data after computers existed.""

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find related articles. powered by google. Science Diversity Digitized
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"Bioinformatics and biodiversity are terms so recently added to the scientific lexicon that they feature in none but the very latest dictionaries. "Bioinformatics" gained common currency in the early 1990s to describe the tools and techniques for storing, handling, and communicating the massive and ever-increasing amounts of biological data emerging principally from genomics research. Made possible by dramatic improvements in computational power and accessibility, bioinformatics has become a major growth industry almost in its own right. Edward O. Wilson, whose guest Editorial appears on page 2279, coined the term "biodiversity" in the 1980s, to encompass the taxonomic and functional diversity of living organisms. Although not a new field in itself, it represented the realignment and closer relationships between the existing sciences of systematics, ecology, and evolution; it also provided a unified rallying cry for conservation.

"In a sense, bioinformatics and biodiversity were made for each other."

find related articles. powered by google. Science: Web Supplement Bioinformatics for Biodiversity: A Web Registry
[summary - can be viewed for free once registered]

"In our Special Issue of 29 September 2000, we take a look at the emerging science of "biodiversity informatics" -- the efforts under way to make the vast, decentralized resources of global biodiversity information available in digital form, and the enormous challenge of imposing consistency and compatibility among the scores of searchable databases on the world's biota.

For the browsing pleasure of our readers, we've collected the various Websites discussed in the Special Issue Viewpoints by Bisby and Edwards et al. -- along with some other sites related to the union of information technology and biodiversity studies -- together in this special supplement."

find related articles. powered by google. VLDB 2000 Biodiversity Informatics: Broadening the Database Field and Future Directions for Database Research

"It is not surprising that information about biodiversity forms the basis of one of our most important knowledge domains, vital to a wide range of scientific, educational, commercial, and government uses. Unfortunately, most biodiversity information now exists in forms that are not easily accessed or used. From traditional paper-based libraries to scattered databases of varying size and physical specimens preserved in natural-history collections throughout the world, our record of biodiversity is uncoordinated and poorly integrated, and large parts of it are isolated from general use. We lack the technologies needed to effectively gather, analyze, and synthesize these data into new discoveries. As a result, this information is not being used as effectively as it could by scientists, resource managers, policy-makers, or other potential client communities. The good news is that research activities are being conducted around the world that could improve our ability to manage biodiversity information, and the emerging field of biodiversity informatics is attempting to meet the challenges posed by this domain."

find related articles. powered by google. European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET) The Global Biodiversity Information Facility: Architectural and Implementation Issues

"This paper supports the OECD Megascience Forum for Biological Informatics on the technical aspects of its plan for the Global Biological Information Facility. The paper identifies the capacity to produce homepages for all species of organisms as the main goal of GBIF, but in such a way that the homepages are dynamically derived from online databases. GBIF should lead to an accelerated rate of describing new species and to new information markets on biodiversity, and complement the Clearing House Mechanism of the Convention of Biological Diversity. It is seen as the critical success factor that an infrastructure is erected for biodiversity similar to what exists for molecular biology. Its cornerstones are regional centres that provide longevity and co-ordination, a distributed object-oriented database architecture based on co-operating agents, data interchange with XML, and seamless use of both existing and new databases. At the heart of the infrastructure, a new Biological Addressing System is suggested that maps the volatile but commonly used scientific names to stable Biodiversity Identifiers that are derived from IPv6. A separate treatment for the name and taxon concepts is deemed essential in this architecture. Finally, issues for research and education are discussed."

[ 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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