Internet Author: Robert Finn
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With the life sciences becoming ever more reliant on computers, biologists find themselves constantly on the lookout for useful software. While there's no shortage of commercial vendors willing to sell full-featured packages that will perform tasks such as modeling a protein or running a flow cytometer, this software can cost many hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Fortunately, an impressive array of free or low-cost software for biologists is available on the Internet, much of it written by independent academics or government scientists.
Such software is often born of a specialized need, according to Harry Mangalam, director of biocomputing at the University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine. "Generally what you'll find is some biologist getting frustrated with something not being just the way he wants it [in a commercial package], and he'll write a program that addresses exactly...