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What is Informatics?

Bill_A_Nussbaumer at ms.bd.com Bill_A_Nussbaumer at ms.bd.com
Tue Jan 16 09:55:20 EST 2001

I sense a resistance, in this and another post, to the formation of
bioinformatics as a separate and distinct discipline.  It's true that
bioinformatics aims at the same questions that traditional molecular lab
techniques do (although increasingly in a more global sense).  I see the
use of computers as an additional tool to speed and focus biological
research.  I think it's well recognized and accepted in the
"bioinformatics" community that computer prediction cannot and assuredly
will never replace lab science, only compliment it.  However, computer
science is a very distinct field from biology and as such, the merger of
the two sciences requires a very different and specialized skill set.  I
think this calls for a separate logical designation for those practicing
specifically in the discipline of computational management and analysis
biological data.

Language is the only way we have to communicate with one another and
language generally requires that "things" (whether they be physically real
or conceptual) have common names and definitions to effectively talk about
them.  Is there a better name than bioinformatics?  There's nothing to keep
portions of one field from spilling into other fields.  Why do we designate
between biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, or even physics?
They all certainly have some overlap and intermesh one way or another.  But
they are also distinct enough that people feel it necessary to conceptually
separate them.  This is surely a big debate and not one that is unique to

Bill Nussbaumer

"Dr. Duncan Clark" <Duncan at nospam.demon.co.uk>@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk on 01/16/2001
04:07:11 AM

Please respond to "Dr. Duncan Clark" <Duncan at genesys.demon.co.uk>

Sent by:  owner-methods at hgmp.mrc.ac.uk

To:   methods at hgmp.mrc.ac.uk
Subject:  Re: What is Informatics?

In article < at mail.montclair.edu>, the
eminent James Campanell at BIOSCI/MRC Human Genome Mapping Project
Resource Centre wrote
>Bioinformatics is the analysis of DNA and protein
>sequences to discern any elements of information that may be there. For
>example, how do you analyze a 10,000 basepair DNA sequence to determine
>where all the endonuclease cutting sites are, where any open reading
>may be, where likely promoter sites may be, etc.

Ah, standard molecular biology techniques all packaged under a new name,
bioinformatics. But, hey, what do I know. :-)

The problem with being on the cutting edge is that you occasionally get
sliced from time to time....

Duncan Clark
GeneSys Ltd.
Tel: +44(0)1252376288
FAX: +44(0)8701640382


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