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Chapter 1. Biology in the Computer Age  > What Questions Can Bioinformatics Ans...

1.14. What Questions Can Bioinformatics Answer?

The questions that drive (and fund) bioinformatics research are the same questions humans have been working away at in applied biology for the last few hundred years. How can we cure disease? How can we prevent infection? How can we produce enough food to feed all of humanity? Companies in the business of developing drugs, agricultural chemicals, hybrid plants, plastics and other petroleum derivatives, and biological approaches to environmental remediation, among others, are developing bioinformatics divisions and looking to bioinformatics to provide new targets and to help replace scarce natural resources.

The existence of genome projects implies our intention to use the data they generate. The implicit goals of modern molecular biology are, simply stated, to read the entire genomes of living things, to identify every gene, to match each gene with the protein it encodes, and to determine the structure and function of each protein. Detailed knowledge of gene sequence, protein structure and function, and gene expression patterns is expected to give us the ability to understand how life works at the highest possible resolution. Implicit in this is the ability to manipulate living things with precision and accuracy.


  

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