The role of bioinformatics in life sciences
The recent revolution in life sciences brought about by disruptive technologies has accelerated penetration of data science in almost all aspects of modern day biology research. Technological advancements have not only enabled sequencing the DNA of individuals, but also of other levels of life, such as DNA modifications (the epigenome), the RNA (the transcriptome), the proteins (the proteome), the chemicals (the metabolome) and the variety of microorganisms living in a human body or outside (the microbiome).
Moreover, -omics technologies are applied to study populations, organisms, tissues and even single cells. They also extend to capture more and more species in the tree of life. A number of technologies collect imaging and phenotype data; all these are combined within the context of health, medicine, biodiversity and synthetic biology. Recent studies have shown that the amount of data in genomics will soon exceed that of astronomy, Twitter and YouTube in terms of acquisition volume, processing and storage [Navarro et al. Genome Biol. 2019].
Bioinformatics has developed as a response to these changes, as a discipline providing standards in data collection, distribution and annotation, as well as supporting novel ways for analysis and biological inference.
The challenge of handling and analyzing the biological data lies not only in its amount, but also in its complexity. The number of articles with bioinformatics analysis of data produced by a variety of experiments has been increasing exponentially, with genomics comprising only a small part of recent diversity in studies. Efficient ways to integrate various datasets to bring all the pieces of the same puzzle together will be at the forefront of bioscience development in the years to come.
Gene editing, personalized medicine, epidemiology, drug development and design, immunology and cancer treatment are all reliant on bioinformatics expertise. Consequently, national/regional bioinformatics institutes and research organizations were established throughout all the European countries, America, Asia and many other regions in the last 20 years.