July 26th, 2006

p53

Civilization is when people specialize

Shout-out to all the bioinformatics people out there, specially rysmiel.

I am trying to find reagents and information about a particular protein, which unfortunately has the same name as another totally unrelated protein. Mostly it's relatively easy (for a human who knows the field!) to disambiguate, but some of the automated tools I'm trying to use, such as searching the catalogue of commercial websites, are having trouble. Returning results for the wrong protein when I carefully specified that I wanted the right protein, and then not having adequate descriptions associated with the catalogue item, so I have to email customer support to get a definite identification... things like that.

But I can definitely see that the situation is a lot better than it might be, considering the mess that is biological nomenclature. And I can see that it's improving very rapidly. And I am really grateful that it's even possible to do these automated meta-searches which make life so much easier. Anything I'm working on, there's a good chance I can find out fairly rapidly and without needing to know a lot of bioinformatics myself, what other scientists have already discovered about the topic. And that's really important for making research useful, rather than merely of intellectual interest to the particular scientists who do it.

So yay for bioinformaticists. They're behind the scenes people, mostly, they don't get big headline grabbing breakthroughs. But this scientist at least appreciates them very much.
  • Current Music
    Placebo: Infra-red
  • Tags