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The Australian Bioinformatics Network: not just for Australian bioinformaticians!

Life's complex... use bioinformaticsI’m prompted to write this after two conversations in the past two days.

Yesterday I was fortunate to see some of the excellent Winter School in Mathematical and Computational Biology and also speak briefly to raise awareness of how the Australian Bioinformatics Network can help people connect.

Following my talk, I was asked whether the ABN was just for bioinformaticians.

Because this is such an important point, I want to spell out the answer in writing: no!

The Australian Bioinformatics Network exists to help people connect to other people, resources and opportunities so that Australian Bioinformatics can deliver even more benefit.

There’s nothing in there to say: "hey, this is for bioinformaticians only"… absolutely the opposite.

Bioinformatics is a vital part of bioscience and it is critical for it to be well integrated with all the many other disciplines that help advance our understanding of living organisms and systems.

This brings me to the second discussion which took place today with Drew Whitehouse from the ANU VizLab. Drew and his colleagues have been at the forefront of volumetric visualisation (including the awesome drishti package) for many years and I was keen to emphasise to him how important it is that the Australian Bioinformatics Network helps people connect to the VizLab and other groups whose research helps us capture information about living organisms and systems.

While many people think of bioinformatics as a discipline focused purely on life at the molecular scale, I think it helps to take a broader view. After all, if we cannot relate information at the molecular scale through to information about tissues, organisms, communities and ecosystems, (as depicted in the graphic above) we’re taking a pretty narrow view of life.

Anyhoo, in the spirit of connection, I’ll sign off with an encouragement for you to check out both the Winter School in Mathematical and Computational Biology and the ANU VizLab, each of which is playing an important role in bioscience.


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