What is Bioinformatics?



Definition

Bioinformatics is a new discipline of science that combines many different fields of study, including biology, computer science, and information technology. Bioinformatics studies all biomolecules, including the study of the human genome and also study of the proteins that those genes create.

Fregj Tekaia, a scientist at the Institut Pasteur, defines bioinformatics as "the mathematical, statistical, and computing methods that aim to solve biological problems using DNA and amino acid sequences and related information."



Accomplishments

Bioinformatics is currently most well-known for its advances in the Human Genome Project and other studies conducted to gather information about genes in certain animals. However, that is not all that bioinformatics is. A new section of bioinformatics that is currently growing very rapidly is proteomics; scientists and researchers gather information about proteins and how they group together in certain combinations, an even larger undertaking than the massive Human Genome Project.



Technology

Technology has made the gathering of data much easier for bioinformatics. Large companies throughout the US such as Incyte Genomics are able to sequence about 20 million base pairs per day! And the storage capacity of these companies is enormous, as well; Celera Genomics, which has a draft of the human genome, holds about 50 terabytes of data.

Not all data is held by large institutions. There are also many searchable databases of genes and proteins all over the Internet, many available for free, including GenBank. Genbank was one of the first databases; it was started by the Department of Energy, but is now run by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Researchers can easily access this database and many other tools using the Internet.




Created by Wan-Shuan Cheng, Nicole Sosa, and Linda Evans: CVGS Class of 2003