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:
- bioinformatics refers to database-like
activities, involving persistent sets of data that are maintained in a
consistent state over essentially indefinite periods of time;
- computational biology encompasses the use of
algorithmic tools to facilitate biological analyses; while
- bioinformation infrastructure comprises the
entire collective of information management systems, analysis tools and
communication networks supporting biology. Thus, the latter may be viewed as
a computational scaffold of the former two.
Path to the
- First Learn Biology.
- Decide and pick a problem that interests you for
- Find and learn about the Bioinformatics tools.
- Learn the Computer Programming Languages.
- Experiment on your computer and learn different
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.