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{bio,medical} informatics

Monday, October 28, 2002

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find related articles. powered by google. Salon Data-mining life on earth

"But putting a stake into the earth -- teaming with microscopic organisms -- and declaring that you're going to catalog all known life isn't as simple as getting a bunch of databases to talk to each other.

"This is much less a technological challenge than a social challenge," says Ann Davis, the executive director of CalFlora, who has collected more than 200,000 observations about plants in the site's database. Getting scientists and even laypersons to centralize their field research means, paradoxically, inspiring them to give up their control over their own data. Sharing an observation about an invasive artichoke thistle amounts to giving that information away."

redux [07.02.01]
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.""

redux [10.01.00]
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."

[ 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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