The term ‘Bioinformatics’ was coined by Paulien Hogeweg in 1970, as a reference to the study of information processes in life science systems.Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary branch of biological science that congregates Information Technology and Life Sciences. It is an interdisciplinary scientific field that develops methods for storing, retrieving, organizing and analyzing biological data. It is a field of knowledge that makes use of computers and IT in general to store, recover and assist databases for processing biological information and in understanding bio-related processes including nucleic acid (DNA/RNA) and protein sequences, structures, functions, pathways and genetic interactions.
Broadly speaking, Bioinformatics conceptualizes biology, in terms of molecules and then employs information techniques to comprehend and organize the information associated with these molecules, on to a wider and extensive scale. The Informative techniques used can be derived from a combination of various disciplines, including Applied Maths, Computational Statistics, Analytical Statistics, Computer Science and Engineering. The computer analysis can be sourced from a genetic code or from experimental derivations from diverse sources, and patient data.
In general, Bioinformatics can be defined as the Management Information System (MIS) for Molecular Biology Information.
Scope of Bioinformatics and its study
Bioinformatics being the use of information technology in Molecular Biology, uses computer and IT to collect, store, analyze, manage, study and merge biological data effectively. As a body of knowledge and field of study, Bioinformatics encompasses, IT processing and analysis, Statistics, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biomedicine and even Linguistics. Owing to this, scholars from these varied backgrounds are required to come together and work in this discipline. Hence prospective learners too are expected to possess deep knowledge in primarily one or two of these and must have a sufficiently good grasp of the others as well based on the fields of application.
Application of Bioinformatics in various fields
The various fields in which there is application of Bioinformatics are
- Human Health
- Drug Development
- Waste Retrieval and Processing
- Climate change and Environmental studies
- Microbial Genome Applications
- Antibiotic Resistance
- Forensic Analysis of Microbes
- Molecular, Personalized and Preventive Medicine
- Gene – Therapy
- Basic Nutrition and Enhancement
- Development of Drought-resistant Plant Varieties
- Veterinary Sciences
- Evolutionary Studies
- Energy and Utilities, to name only a few
Following specialized streams and areas of study and research need to be understood to pursue a particular study stream in Bioinformatics. Two broad streams can be identified.