What is bioinformatics and systems biology?
Bioinformatics is the organisation and analysis of biological data, particularly of large datasets drawn from genome, proteome, transcriptome or metabolome wide analyses. In the 1980s-1990s, the main focus was on sequence analysis of DNA and proteins, and on structural bioinformatics (analysis of three dimensional structures of proteins, inferred from X-ray crystallography or NMR). Increasingly bioinformatics is merging with other disciplines (e.g. genetic epidemiology), as large genome-linked datasets become more routinely available in a variety of settings.
Systems Biology (Computational Biomedicine) refers to the application of computational science to biomedical problems. Computational science differs from computer science, in that it focuses on applied mathematical and numerical analysis aspects of computational problems.
Research questions in computational biomedicine include:
- Systematic biology
- analysis and study design for integration of large genome-wide datasets of mRNA, proteins, polymorphisms, promoters, functional effects of gene knockouts.
- do pairwise interactions of multiple factors predict modularity, and identify interactions among modules of interest?
- Systems biology
- can dynamical systems modelling of known experimental data for a system of proteins predict the experimental conditions that will yield a desired biological or clinical outcome?