What is a Bioinformatician?

Herbert M Sauro HSauro at fssc.demon.co.uk
Fri Apr 25 12:51:41 EST 1997

In article <335E369F.2E7C at ix.netcom.com>, Bob Phair
<rphair at ix.netcom.com> writes
>My own subspecialty is analysis of cellular dynamic systems, and I'm
>convinced that to bridge the gap between genomics and physiology we have
>to go even further than predicting the function of proteins. We need to
>assemble the gene products from a cell-specific cDNA library, write rate
>laws for the processes mediated by these gene products, and test the
>resulting computer models against experimental data. These systems will
>have thousands of state variables and constitute another grand challenge
>to computational biology and bioinformatics.
Indeed the ultimate problem in biology and I think the biological 'holy
grail' is the problem of predicting phenotype from genotype. This means,
as you state above, to predict physiology from proteins, proteins from
the amino acid sequence and amino acid sequence from DNA sequence. I am
convinced that many molecular biologists feel the these problems are
solved and certainly understanding metabolism (or anything for that
matter that happens down stream of the proteins) is solved - I mean just
check out the many text books on biochem! The pretty pictures and rosy
impression depicted in modern text books however hides an enormous gulf
between image and understanding. I am not denigrating mol biol or
related disciplines when I say that the problems and questions
considered in mol biol pale in to insignificance compared to cellular
dynamics. Likewise the problems we encounter in cellualr dynamics pale
yet again into insignificance when compared to the problem of the brain. 

Is the surface even scratched, perhaps the paint work is slightly pale?

>Robert D. Phair, Ph.D.  rphair at ix.netcom.com
>BioInformatics Services  http://www.webcom.com/rphair
>Partnering and Outsourcing for Computational Biology
Herbert Sauro
Herbert M Sauro
email:     HSauro at fssc.demon.co.uk
Telephone: 01974 282428
"He who cannot draw on 3000 years is living from hand to mouth" Goethe
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"
R Browning.

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