Bioinformatics is a multidisciplinary field that applies knowledge of computer science, mathematics and physics to solve problems from biological research fields such as molecular biology and biochemistry.
Coined by Paulien Hogeweg and Ben Hesper in 1978, the term "bioinformatics" was originally used in studies of ecosystems biology and ecology . However, with the development and improvement of technologies for analyzing DNA, RNA and proteins, a greater amount of data began to be generated, requiring the use of computational tools to organize, analyze and understand the growing volume of data.
Through bioinformatics, several methods have been developed to better understand the molecular processes that occur in living organisms. Today, researchers have databases to store a volume of information never imagined before and algorithms to handle large-scale data produced by techniques such as next-generation sequencing and mass spectrometry. Moreover, bioinformatics uses statistical and computational techniques to help undertastand the large volume of data and provide greater explanatory power of biological processes .
Applications of Bioinformatics go through various areas of knowledge, such as genome assembly, comparative genomics, gene expression analysis, gene regulation networks, the study of metabolism, analysis of the structure of macromolecules, drug design and evolutionary biology. Moreover, it is closely related to two new fields of research of great interest in our laboratory: the systems biology and synthetic biology.
As a multidisciplinary field, the research groups within Bioinformatics are composed of researchers familiar with the concepts and methods of biology, as well as able to understand the essential statistical methods for data analysis and knowledge of computer tools necessary to address the biological information.
Hagen, J. B. (2000). The Origins of Bioinformatics. Nature Reviews Genetics
Hogeweg, P. (2011). The Roots of Bioinformatics in Theoretical Biology. PLoS Computational Biology