Clinical Review Science, medicine, and the future

Bioinformatics

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7344.1018 (Published 27 April 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1018
  1. Ardeshir Bayat, MRC fellow (ardeshir.bayat@man.ac.uk)
  1. Centre for Integrated Genomic Medical Research, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT
  1. Correspondence to:

    An unprecedented wealth of biological data has been generated by the human genome project and sequencing projects in other organisms. The huge demand for analysis and interpretation of these data is being managed by the evolving science of bioinformatics. Bioinformatics is defined as the application of tools of computation and analysis to the capture and interpretation of biological data. It is an interdisciplinary field, which harnesses computer science, mathematics, physics, and biology (fig 1). Bioinformatics is essential for management of data in modern biology and medicine. This paper describes the main tools of the bioinformatician and discusses how they are being used to interpret biological data and to further understanding of disease. The potential clinical applications of these data in drug discovery and development are also discussed.

    Summary points

    Bioinformatics is the application of tools of computation and analysis to the capture and interpretation of biological data

    Bioinformatics is essential for management of data in modern biology and medicine

    The bioinformatics toolbox includes computer software programs such as BLAST and Ensembl, which depend on the availability of the internet

    Analysis of genome sequence data, particularly the analysis of the human genome project, is one of the main achievements of bioinformatics to date

    Prospects in the field of bioinformatics include its future contribution to functional understanding of the human genome, leading to enhanced discovery of drug targets and individualised therapy

    Fig 1

    Interaction of disciplines that have contributed to the formation of bioinformatics

    Methods

    This article is based on personal experience in bioinformatics and on selected articles in recent issues of Nature Genetics, Nature Genetics Reviews, Nature Medicine, and Science. Key terms including bioinformatics, comparative and functional genomics, proteomics, microarray, disease, and medicine were used to search for relevant articles in the peer reviewed scientific literature.

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