Introduction to Bioinformatics
Lecture 1: Overview of Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology
What is Bioinformatics?
Defining the terms bioinformatics and computational biology is not necessarily an
easy task, as evidenced by multiple definitions available over the web. A recent
google search for "definition of bioinformatics" returned over 43,000 results! In
the past few years, as the areas have grown, a greater confusion into these two
terms has prevailed. For some, the terms bioinformatics and computational
biology have become completely interchangeable terms, while for others, there is
a great distinction. I'll throw my two cents in, based on what my experience has
been to the consensus use of these two terms.
Computational biology and bioinformatics are multidisciplinary fields, involving
researchers from different areas of specialty, including (but in no means limited
to) statistics, computer science, physics, biochemestry, genetics, molecular
biology and mathematics. The goal of these two fields is as follows:
Typically refers to the field concerned with the collection
and storage of biological information. All matters concerned with biological
databases are considered bioinformatics.
Refers to the aspect of developing algorithms
and statistical models necessary to analyze biological data through the aid
In this respect, my understanding of bioinformatics and computational biology
follows the NIH definitions
Research, development, or application of computational tools and approaches
for expanding the use of biological, medical, behavioral or health data, including those to acquire,
store, organize, archive, analyze, or visualize such data.
The development and application of data-analytical and theoretical
methods, mathematical modeling and computational simulation techniques to the study of
biological, behavioral, and social systems.
Others have offered various opinions into these definitions as well: