Bioinformatics is the application of computer technology to the understanding and effective use of biological data. In other words, it helps to convert “big data” into “smart data” or knowledge. Computing has become a central component of modern scientific research: large volumes of data (“big data”) are generated by increasingly automated measuring devices. These data need to be stored, organized and analysed to extract new insights and knowledge. Because new discoveries often reveal their relevance when they are compared with the already available knowledge, extensive comparison with large datasets is a great advantage. In addition, computational simulation has become a third pillar of science – along with experimentation and theory – allowing researchers to advance their understanding of complex systems in silico.
- Databases and knowledgebases for storing, retrieving and organizing biological data;
- Software for modelling, visualizing, analysing, interpreting and comparing biological data;
- Computing and storage infrastructure for “big data” processing;
- Biocuration and bioinformatics expertise enabling life scientists to have an accurate and comprehensive representation of biological knowledge and take full advantage of bioinformatics technologies.
Bioinformatics is thus an interdisciplinary field that brings major advances in many different life science and medical areas. Bioinformatics domains include:
- Genes and genomes
- Proteins and proteomes
- Medicine and health
- Evolution and phylogeny
- Structural biology
- Systems biology
- Bioinformatics infrastructure
Ensuring online access to bioinformatics resources, such as databases and software platforms, as well as training and support from skilled bioinformaticians, is therefore essential for medicine and life sciences.