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{bio,medical} informatics

Monday, October 15, 2001

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find related articles. powered by google. OReilly.Com Why Biologists Want to Program Computers

"This article will examine why a biologist would want to learn to program. There are two main reasons: scientific, and economic. I hope that the discussion will also be of some use to programmers thinking of entering the bioinformatics field. But first, I'll take a short tour of some history, define some terms, and make some general comments about how programming fits into biology research."

redux [04.05.00]
find related articles. powered by google. HMS Beagle Are Computers Evolving in Biology?
[requires 'free' registration]

"I suspect that although the new enthusiasm for computers in biology is genuine, it overlooks some basic problems in implementation. The basic difficulty, as I see it, is that although biologists use computers, they do not trust everything that comes out of them. It is one thing to use them to print up nice-looking graphs, but it is an entirely different matter to use them to think better."

"Francis Crick was once quoted as saying that no biologist had ever made a discovery using a mathematical model. I would reply that no biologist has ever made a discovery by running an electrophoretic gel. They make discoveries by using their brains. Computers, like all scientific tools, are only as good as the person who uses them. If biologists don't understand how computer models are constructed, they won't know their strengths and limitations. Without some foundation of trust, biologists will be unlikely to utilize or accept this powerful method of data analysis."

[ 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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