Bioinformatics

2451 Words10 Pages
I.Introduction When future generations reflect upon this current era of human history and development, it is almost certain that the birth and advancement of bioinformatics will be among the most awe-inspiring of topics. Bioinformatics is the field of study which is concerned with the storage, retrieval, and analysis of biological data via the tools of informatics. The two major objectives of bioinformatics (as identified by -new avenues-p9) are the identification of genes and the prediction of their function. Bioinformatics therefore shares an intimate relationship with the field of functional genomics, which is defined by Alberts as “the field of study which aims to understand the ways in which cells execute and control the great number of operations required for normal function, and those in which cellular systems fail in disease”(1996). In order to produce results that offer a better understanding of biological systems, a link must be made between the genomic scale and the scale of the biological system in question. This requires computational and formal methods to process massive amounts of data, understand general principles that govern the system, and make predictions about system behavior (Scmulevich,Dougherty, and Zhang,2002). As the size and complexity of the data to be implemented grows telescopically (due to advancements in areas such as gene expression, mass spectrometry, and protein-protein interactions), the need for massive comprehensive databases with fluid global access (deemed “knowledgebases” by Manuela Pruess (p43,New Avenues.)) has become apparent. What separates these new proposed knowledgebases from other types of databases is the power which stems from the cross-referencing of data from researchers all... ... middle of paper ... ...f Non-governmental organizations is possible. These include the success of Greenpeace in forcing the company Shell Oil to change its position in Brent Spare and the North Sea in respect to Nigeria and the success of human rights groups in forcing the government of Mexico to protect the Indians in Chiapas, the instance social pressure discontinuing the production of the “new leaf” genetically modified potato, and the success of human rights groups in changing the Nike position on child labor use. While these instances have proven that NGOs are capable and viable resources in altering public policy of large companies and governments, the reliance of NGOs alone to regulate the advancement of the biotechnology industry offers a fundamental problem in that they lack the legitimacy to create organizations which monitor and enforce the policies which they help to create.
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