Bioinformatics Essential Infrastructure and Important Tools for Genomics in Developing Countries

14 Apr 2008 Bioinformatics: Essential infrastructure and important tools for genomics in developing countries Huanming Yang, Ph.D. Director, Beijing Genomics Institute, China Bioinformatics is the scientific core and most important tools of genomics, as well as of the whole field of life sciences. Genomics, a new frontier and foundation of life sciences and biotechnologies, has two solid pillars based on two understandings of life: “Life is of sequence” and “life is digital”. These understandings have made sequencers and supercomputers powerful tools and have changed for ever the practice of biological research. 2007 has been acknowledged as a Year of Miracle for genomics and life sciences. However, neither breakthrough in technology nor discoveries in science of the year would have been made without the development of bioinformatics. This brings another historic opportunity for the developing countries to pick up in life sciences and biotechnology. Priorities should be given to developing bioinformatics. Department of Bioinformatics has been one of the major contributors to all the achievements made by Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) in the past years. For examples, the working draft, then fine sequence map, of rice by whole genome shotgun sequencing, was successfully gained by developing RePS and its improved version RePSII to overcome the obstacle of the unknown repeats for de novo sequencing of genomes, as well as ReAS and other sequence annotators to make a number of important discoveries by identification of DNA functional elements from the genome sequence. Bioinformatics is both labor-intensive and brain-intensive, which is one of the advantages of the developing countries. BGI’s new Department of Informatics in Shenzhen has more than 100 programmers, and its computing capacity has been expanded with a new high-performance computer of 416 CPUs, a memory of 912G, and a storage of 300T, as required by the next-gen sequencers of 6 Solexa and 2 SOLiD presently and even more in the nearest future. Huanming Yang
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