It's more than simple databasing, mining, or in silico experimentation. To create and analyze nature-inspired computer simulation of biological systems – from pathways to cells to entire ecosystems – and then use this information to devise new and creative ways to study life, it must incorporate these things and much more. At its core, though, the definition of digital biology, which is the focus of this issue of The Scientist, should be quite simple and quite literal: It's anything that employs the logic of ones and zeroes in the study of life.

A common denominator driving these efforts is the data deluge inundating life scientists in every field. The information that will guide a million new hypotheses and launch a million more experiments is humming away somewhere in the world, at places like the Sanger Institute. We take you to their data storage facility, which is solving the overload...

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