Bioinformatics and Computational Biology: Bottlenecks and Options
Author: K. John Morrow, Jr., PhD
The interdisciplinary fields of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology are locked in a high stakes race with analytical instrument developers and innovators. The pace and scope of change in many fields of biomedical research rivals what we once associated only with semiconductor devices. This report explores the interlocking challenges facing instrumentation advances, computational demands and our evolving systems biology knowledge. Key challenges presented in this report include:
- Instrumentation capable of generating terabytes of raw data daily
- Storage requirements for human gene sequences
- Need for cross platform data analysis standards
- Appropriateness of analysis & modeling applications
- Database data quality and annotation protocols
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology: Bottlenecks and Options reviews the state of the art and aims to determine the significant technological and market trends in the application of informatics and computation techniques to biological research and drug discovery. The progress of molecular biology has given us a profound understanding of human physiology and pathology at a molecular level. However, we understand that a functioning organism is more than simply a sum of chemical reactions. In recent years a concerted effort has been directed at moving from a reductionist approach to understanding physiology in an integrative systems framework complete with the associated mathematical-based models.
The growth of systems biology has been aided by the availability of constantly evolving computational capacity of cheap hardware as well as advances in analytical research instruments capable in some applications of generating terabytes of data each day. Such instruments are being used to make time series measurements of multiple-analyte fluxes during the perturbation of a physiological system. The robustness of such data are the building blocks for computational biology.
This report describes the tension the combined fields of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology are experiencing by first reviewing the capabilities of innovative analytical instrumentation to generate terabytes of data and then considering the availability of approaches, both in software and hardware, to compress, store, retrieve and combine these data. The report identifies this supply and demand as a strategic bottleneck issue. The discussion also considers issues of cross platform data analysis standards and the appropriate use of analysis and modeling applications on data quality.
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology: Bottlenecks and Options presents an analysis of the state of the field in terms of the current systems biology models and their applications, where the field is headed and the possible implications for applied biological science. The report also includes profiles of systems biology vendors and their products as well as a discussion of the applications in areas such as personalized medicine and drug discovery. The report closes with an overview of the strategy pressure points and the interlocking challenges inherent with instrumentation advances, computational demands and our evolving systems biology knowledge.
About the Author
K. John Morrow, Jr., PhD, is a writer and consultant for the biotechnology industry. He obtained his PhD in genet¬ics from the University of Washington in Seattle, and completed his training with post doctoral studies in Italy at the Universitá di Pavia and Philadelphia at the Fox Chase Cancer Institute. He has held faculty positions at the University of Kansas and at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. His writings include over 200 peer-reviewed journal papers, non-peer–reviewed coverage of the biotechnology industry, books, and marketing reports. A number of companies, including Meridian Bioscience, Affitech, Henderson-Morley Biotech¬nology, Brandwidth Communications, and Emergent Technologies have taken advantage of his consultancy services, provided through Newport Biotechnology Consultants. He resides in Newport, KY.