In February 2001, the human genome was finally deciphered! In other words, scientists have succeeded in reading the chain of more than 3 billion base pairs that constitute the DNA molecule of humans; this process is called, sequencing . That daunting task required new analytical methods created by bioinformatics. The challenge was broad: identify all the genes and associate them with specific functions (field of genomics ), predict the structure of the proteins for which they code (field of proteomics ), and compare the roles of certain genes with those of other species in the living world (using biochips , for example).
The Definition of
Bioinformatics is the analysis of biological information using computers and statistical techniques; the science of developing and utilizing computer databases and algorithms to accelerate and enhance biological research. Bioinformatics is more of a tool than a discipline, the tools for analysis of Biological Data.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI 2001) defines bioinformatics as:
"Bioinformatics is the field of science in which biology, computer science, and information technology merge into a single discipline. There are three important sub-disciplines within bioinformatics: the development of new algorithms and statistics with which to assess relationships among members of large data sets; the analysis and interpretation of various types of data including nucleotide and amino acid sequences, protein domains, and protein structures; and the development and implementation of tools that enable efficient access and management of different types of information."
The application of computer technology to the management of biological information. Specifically, it is the science of developing computer databases and algorithms to facilitate and expedite biological research. Bioinformatics is being used largely in the field of human genome research by the Human Genome Project that has been determining the sequence of the entire human genome (about 3 billion base pairs) and is essential in using genomic information to understand diseases. It is also used largely for the identification of new molecular targets for drug discovery.
The three terms bioinformatics, computational biology
and bioinformation infrastructure are often times used interchangeably. These
three may be defined as follows:
Path to the Bioinformatics
The computer has become an essential tool for the biologist just like the microscope. Eventually the Bioinformatics will become an integral part of the biology.
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