Why should you take an interest in biotechnology and in particular bioinformatics? I think that the following are some pretty convincing reasons:
We need more drugs
Despite the revolutionary development in biological research,
the development of new drugs in the last few decades has not been impressive - the products have lagged behind the promise.
We can wonder why this is the case, but it is more important to decide what can be done about it.
Maybe you can be involved in the discovery of new drugs, maybe not, but you need to be involved in
deciding how the system of drug development can be improved to produce the drugs we hope for in the next few decades
Healthcare - not a black box
The expenditure on healthcare in the USA is getting towards 20% of GDP. That in other countries is less but is heading in the same direction.
You may think that this is excessive, you may think that such a trend is only to be expected. You may see such a large proportion of the economy as a future employment opportunity.
In any case it is important for you to have some knowledge of what is happening in this area - you need to be able to make informed
ComputersComputers play a central part in biotechnology. More and more work is being done in silico
before being tried out in the lab. But you have a computer. Yes bioinformatics needs a lot of computing power,
but have you seen how much personal computers are catching up - the computing power of a fast supercomputer 5 years ago is
now being used to play games. At the start of the personal computing revolution people didn't wait for big companies
to give them what they wanted - they programmed it for themselves. Computers weren't just a black box -
users delved inside to see how they worked and how to improve them. I envisage a similar sort of activity in the world of bioinformatics
I feel that bioinformatics should play a much larger role in our education. It links up with lots of subjects such as
mathematics computing , biology, chemistry, physics and medicine. Education in this area is likely to give you plenty of useful skills
for future employment. But it also offers opportunity for new methods of education. Because it is computer based, one would hope to be able
to create computer based learning courses in the subject. Also, since the biological world is so vast, it offers the opportunity
for students to do real research for themselves, but all the while seeing how it is linked to the world around them.
The first citizen science projects showed how much people want to be involved in the advancement of science.
I think that such projects could go much further, not just enabling people to help out on a task, but helping them to learn more about the subject they are dealing with
Bioinformatics seems to me to be an ideal area to try this out.
It's a big bioinformatic world
There are many millions of species on this planet, but sequencing technology is progressing fast and will soon be able to generate data for a significant
proportion of them. The question is who is going to deal with all of the data generated? It can be dealt with algorithmically up to a point, but in the end it's going to
need a human to extract useful information from it. Who is going to do that. The answer is: You are.