Rise and Demise of Bioinformatics? Promise and Progress

  • Christos A. Ouzounis mail

    Affiliations: Institute of Agrobiotechnology, Centre for Research & Technology Hellas (CERTH), Thessaloniki, Greece, Donnelly Centre for Cellular & Biomolecular Research, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


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A simplified explanation

Posted by earonesty on 02 Aug 2012 at 13:05 GMT

1) Because of the extreme progress in the field, there is no longer a big distinction between "bioinformatics" and "biology", since a modern "biologist" must be a "bioinformaticist", and the tools and techniques of a "biologist", which used to involve things like "wet lab experience", are essentially academic exercises to gain understanding how the machines, which can do things like molecule isolation and enrichment with robots and 96-well plates, work.

2) At the same time, the "computational part" of biology is often outsourced - sometimes to sophisticated software packages, and sometimes to giant sequencing labs which perform secondary analyses on behalf of the biologists. Field biologists and people who grow strains of various things in dishes routinely send samples to sequencing labs who who: extract "data" from their experiments, help design those experiments so that computation is feasible, summarize data with graphs and analyses, and then send compressed, enriched data back.

3) These bioinformaticists are: working at sequencing facilities and software companies, churning out that "enriched data", designing the advanced graphical packages, and drawing statistical inferences - but the we just don't need to know or talk about them any more. They are a "back end" process, no longer seen as primary investigators of biology and not worthy of media mention.

No competing interests declared.