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Digital biology: challenges remain

NIH symposium tackles difficult networking and reliability issues in computational research

Eugene Russo(erusso@the-scientist.com)

If computational biology is to be truly integrated into biomedical research practice, the current computer networks that link labs across the United States are inadequate, panelists at a National Institutes of Health (NIH) symposium concluded last week. They urged an infusion of money and technology.

The meeting, organized by the Biomedical Information Science and Technology Initiative (BISTI), an interagency NIH body, brought together leaders in imaging, cellular, and molecular modeling and simulation, genome analysis, proteomics and microarrays. Participants discussed current examples of how computer science has facilitated major biomedical research projects such as applying bioinformatics to complex multigene diseases, the development of computational models of the heart, and the construction of digital brain atlases.

Participants also struggled with how to expand networking capabilities. “The real paradigm shift is that some time over the last decade or so, computing has become so integral in biomedical research that you just can't...

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