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Biotech Science

IT Spending in Life Sciences 11

Posted by michael
from the career-planning dept.
dano1992 writes "From Cnet: Computers replace petri dishes in biological labs. "The life sciences field is poised to spend billions on IT due to a need to manage an explosion in biosciences data, and a desire on the part of drug companies to streamline drug development." But the folk who'll catch the best part of the wave are those who can work with clusters, databases and storage on a massive scale."
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IT Spending in Life Sciences

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  • Nobel Prizes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by henrygb (668225) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:48PM (#6109085)
    will go to those who ask their databases clever questions. Getting the answers takes skill but is not at the same level.
  • by airuck (300354) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @05:22PM (#6109419)
    "Computers replace petri dishes in biological labs."

    That isn't very realistic. Data collection is still the major driving force in life science discovery. Good IT infrastructure enables large screens, but only in conjuction with robotics, microfluidics, sweat, and a lot of disposable plastic, including petri dishes.

    Modeling biological systems is a difficult task. As Hiroaki Kitano [cvbig.org] points out, "[in biological systems] large numbers of functionally diverse, and frequently multifunctional, sets of elements interact selectively and nonlinearly to produce coherant rather than complex behaviours". There are still a huge number of elements and relationships to discover.

  • A lot of the molecular biology software is open source. Much of it is unlicenced. Alot of the software available is bereft of software licences. Some has weird licencing conditions, and can be difficult to obtain for non commercial purposes. Many molecular biologists have a gap in their computer literacy. I think that there's definately a market for a knoppix style cd that includes a large suite of molecular biology tools, database software (probably postgresql) and good documentation, so that the poor molecular biologists who've been suffering from using windows all these years can return to a real scientific computing environment. There are many good analysis tools available for unix, but few good presentation tools. A nice genome drawing package that outputs [encapsulated] postscript, as well as documentation explaining what these weird file formats are for would be really good. The combination of a self documenting self configuring linux distribution with built in clustering support would be very well received if the scientists could be eased into changing their computing platforms.
  • by Bowling Moses (591924) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @08:55PM (#6111010) Journal
    A lot of it is open source; unfortunately a lot of it also epitomizes what's wrong with non-commercial software. You might have just one small group, one lab, or even just one guy who's little baby that program is. For what I've used, the majority of the open source software and freeware runs on unix, not windows, although there is a growing commitment to linux and windows that will become dominant in the next couple of years. Most of it runs. Sort of. If you're willing to fight with it. The only thing worse than the user interface is the manual, if one exists at all (although exceptions exist, such as Deep View Swiss PDB Viewer [expasy.org]). While I'd agree that many biologists have poor computer skills, that's rapidly changing as more and more the problem is data interpretation as opposed to data acquisition. There are many subdisciplins where a good percentage of the biologists also possess some ability for computer programming (or at least script writing) just becuase that's the only way to force the software to work. I'd also agree that a CD package with documentation on a popular set of programs would be great, but that's complicated by the fact that the geneticists don't do biochemistry who don't do cell biology etc. That and getting a bunch of scientists together on something like this is like herding cats.

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