Stein Gives Bioinformatics Ten Years to Live

O’Reilly Network: Stein Gives Bioinformatics Ten Years to Live [Feb. 05, 2003]:
‘ Lincoln Stein’s keynote at the O’Reilly Bioinformatics Technology Conference was provocatively titled “Bioinformatics: Gone in 2012.” Despite the title, Stein is optimistic about the future for people doing bioinformatics. But he explained that “the field of bioinformatics will be gone by 2012. The field will be doing the same thing but it won’t be considered a field.” His address looked at what bioinformatics is and what its future is likely to be in the context of other scientific disciplines. He also looked at career prospects for people doing bioinformatics and provided advice for those looking to enter the field.

One of Stein’s tests for a discipline is the “Department Of” test. Take your favorite field or service and prepend it with your favorite institution’s name, followed by “Department of”. For example, he is quite happy with the phrase “the Harvard Department of Genetics.” On the other hand, a “Department of Microscopy” seems to him to fit better at an Institute of Technology. He said that for him, a Department of Bioinformatics has the same feel and he doesn’t predict the establishment of bioinformatics departments.

Stein returned to the question, what is bioinformatics? In light of his thoughts on services defined by tools and disciplines defined by problem, his answer was simple. Bioinformatics is just one way of studying biology. Whether you think of bioinformatics as High Throughput Biology, Integrative Biology, or Large Data Set Biology, fundamentally Stein argues that bioinformatics is biology.

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