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Bioinformatics


Bioinformatics is the field of science in which biology, computer science, and information technology merge to form a single discipline. The ultimate goal of the field is to enable the discovery of new biological insights as well as to create a global perspective from which unifying principles in biology can be discerned. At the beginning of the 'genomic revolution', a bioinformatics concern was the creation and maintenance of a database to store biological information, such as nucleotide and amino acid sequences. Development of this type of database involved not only design issues but the development of complex interfaces whereby researchers could both access existing data as well as submit new or revised data.

Ultimately, however, all of this information must be combined to form a comprehensive picture of normal cellular activities so that researchers may study how these activities are altered in different disease states. Therefore, the field of bioinformatics has evolved such that the most pressing task now involves the analysis and interpretation of various types of data, including nucleotide and amino acid sequences, protein domains, and protein structures. The actual process of analyzing and interpreting data is referred to as computational biology.

Although a human disease may not be found in exactly the same form in animals, there may be sufficient data for an animal model that allow researchers to make inferences about the process in humans. The rationale for applying computational approaches to facilitate the understanding of various biological processes includes a more global perspective in experimental design and the ability to capitalize on the emerging technology of database-mining - the process by which testable hypotheses are generated regarding the function or structure of a gene or protein of interest by identifying similar sequences in better characterized organisms.

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Fact Credit:
NIH NCBI

Further Reading
Introduction to Bioinformatics
by Arthur M. Lesk


Related Web Links
Genome Bioinformatics
by UCSC Genome Bioinformatics Site

Genome Database
by GDB





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