Bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics are rapidly advancing fields that integrate the tools and knowledge from biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, physics, and statistics in research at the intersection of the biological and informational sciences. Inspired by the enormous amount of biological data that are being generated from the sequencing of genomes, these new fields will help us pose and answer biological questions that have long been considered too complex to address. Research in genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics will also significantly impact society affecting medicine, culture, economics, and politics.
Also known as Computational Biology, this is the use of mathematics, statistics and computer programming to solve biological problems. Problems that are addressed in bioinformatics include protein and nucleotide sequence alignments, protein structure prediction, evolution modeling, prediction of gene expression and prediction of protein-protein interactions. The study of bioinformatics has vastly increased the power of genomic and proteomic research.
Genomics is the study of organisms’ genomes and their expression. Genomics deals with how genes are organized within the genome, the management of DNA by the organism and modifications in the genome through evolution. Study in genomics has the potential of offering new therapies for treating many diseases.
The Natural complement to genomics, proteomics is the study of all of the proteins in an organism (proteome) and their interactions with their environment. The nature of proteins makes proteomics far more complex than genomics. Study in proteomics includes investigations in quantitation, structure (3-dimensional and sequence analysis), function, interactions, and modifications of proteins. In industry, protein separation and purification of proteins are also important aspects of proteomics.
BiG P at Williams:
The Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Proteomics curriculum involves faculty from the biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics/statistics, and physics departments and is designed to provide students with an understanding of these revolutionary new areas of investigation. The introductory level courses, Computation and biology and Statistics for Biologists are accessible to all students interested in gaining familiarity with the power of genomic analysis. Students interested in graduate work in bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics should take the core course and five of the recommended courses. Interested students are also encouraged to participate in independent research with members of the advisory faculty as they explore the development of these new fields.