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`Computers vital for bioinformatics research'

By Our Staff Reporter

COIMBATORE, MARCH 28. Bioinformatics research is generating vast amounts of data that need to be stored and processed on computers in order to yield new knowledge about organisms, the Director, Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, Manju Bansal, has said.

Inaugurating a seminar jointly organised recently by the Bioinformatics Centre and the Department of Microbiology of the GRD College of Science, Dr. Bansal said that at one time, scientists had believed that when the sequence of the genome of an organism was known, all the information about it would be automatically understood.

They had thought that it would be possible to identify all the genes in an organism, pinpoint the disease causing genes, and provide treatment for all ailments. However, the present situation was that scientists were yet to fully understand even the genome of the simplest organism `E.coli K 12'.

Though understanding complex networks was the goal of bioinformatics, storing all the data in usable form was a massive job.

Robots and high technology systems generated large amounts of data on gene sequencing and gene expression. "In the next six months, we will have more data than has been available in all the previous experiments done so far," she said.

Computers stored vast amounts of data regarding proteins, and the databases needed to be annotated regularly, to reflect the result of biological experiments. "A bioinformatician should know all about the various sequence comparison algorithms and packages, structure analysis and classification norms for proteins and nucleic acids, and understand mathematical tools," she added.

Dr. Bansal said that these were the minimal skills that every aspiring life scientist or biological researcher ought to acquire.

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