At the crossroads of biology, computer science and information technology is the fast-growing, game-changing field of bioinformatics. Fast-growing because scientists are looking to bioinformatics to help them find, store and analyze the treasure trove of genomic information uncovered in the last decade (most notably, since the completion of the Human Genome Project). Game-changing because powerful bioinformatics tools (computers and software) now make it possible to integrate and compress many of the stages in the drug discovery process, enabling scientists around the world to experiment with radical new approaches to biomedical research. According to the research firm Business Insights, these developments will largely be responsible for the bioinformatics market’s 23% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2011, when it is projected to reach $4.5 billion.
Innovations have allowed bioinformatics to evolve from “simple” data management and gene sequencing to more complex tasks such as biomarker discovery and systems biology modeling. In addition, bioinformatics databases are constantly expanding and researchers are continuously looking into new ways to use this information. Although issues such as establishing consistent data quality standards, growing data storage demand, and the proliferation of data analysis methods, platforms and applications are still being worked out, industry analysts agree that bioinformatics will continue to grow and play a critical role in the evolution of other key biomedical fields such as drug discovery and personalized medicine.
Florida organizations innovating in various sectors of the bioinformatics field include:
HyperCube, Inc. – For 25 years, Gainesville-based HyperCube has been making molecular modeling accessible to chemists everywhere – researchers and students alike. The company’s products are well-known for their ease of use and availability on a variety of platforms.
CURNA – One of Scripps Florida’s spinoff companies, Jupiter-based CURNA utilizes novel non-coding RNA technology developed at the research institute by Dr. Claes Wahlestedt, the company’s co-founder and Consultant CSO, who was also the founding director of the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics at the Karolinska Institute.
Firebird Biomolecular Sciences – Firebird, also based in Gainesville, supplies nucleic acid components, libraries, polymerases, and bioinformatics software to support human diagnostics, synthetic biology, and human therapy.
Florida International University – Lead by the distinguished bioinformatics expert Dr. Giri Narasimhan, FIU’s Bioinformatics Research Group (BioRG) works on a wide range of projects in the fields of Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Data Mining, and Information Retrieval. BioRG is funded by NIH and NSF, among others, and its members have many academic awards and publications to their credit.
Florida State University – FSU’s Department of Biological Science together with the Department of Computer Science offers an undergraduate Computational Biology major, which prepares students for productive careers in the fields of computational biology and bioinformatics.
Source: Enterprise Florida eflorida.com
Original ‘On Your Radar: Life Sciences’ newsletter –