What is bioinformatics?

Bioinformatics means an interdisciplinary science that connects computer sciences and research in so-called life sciences (such as biology, biochemistry, chemistry).
Specialists in bioinformatics are well trained in both sciences and informatics. The discipline is called bioinformatics, chemoinformatics or life science informatics depending on their individual specialisation.

Bioinformaticians are essential members of research teams since today scientific progress is hardly possible without sophisticated and innovative software.

Typical working places for specialists in life science informatics include:

Basic research in biology and other life sciences

Bioinformaticians analyse huge amounts of data that are generated by contemporary research laboratories. They scan raw data for signals or patterns and combine newly assessed data with knowledge derived from publicly available data banks or scientific literature.
The ultimate goal of systems biology is to fully clarify and understand the living organism (i.e. "to boldly go where no man has gone before").

Drug research

Informatics specialists with scientific training are essential in almost all stages of drug research and development. They are integrated tightly into many different working groups:

  • Together with colleagues in Functional Genomics they find new starting points for treatments meant to cure formerly incurable diseases.
  • In collaboration with chemists they discover possible new drugs in electronic databases. Or they design innovative new drugs by means of Computer-Assisted Drug Design.
  • As part of molecular biology teams bioinformaticians design therapeutically effective proteins.
  • In clinical research informatics experts enable the development of individualised therapies adapted for each single patient, based on his individual genetic characteristics.

Informatics in science

Whenever scientists are dependent on innovative software (and this is almost always), the colleagues with deep knowledge in informatics are recognised as knights in shining armour.