GENOME CANADA WORKSHOPS
Report of the 2011 Genome Canada Workshop on Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
What is Bioinformatics and Computational Biology?
The massive and ongoing influx of data from “omics” research, in particular sequencing projects underscores the need for
new and large-scale experimental, computational and theoretical tools in modern biology. These tools are essential for
analyzing and integrating the complex data to better understand the biology of living things. Bioinformatics and
computational biology have been identified as priority areas for Genome Canada.
Computational biology is the research, development and application of theoretical data-analytical methods,
mathematical modeling and computational simulation techniques to study biological systems.
Bioinformatics is the research, development and application of computational tools and approaches to maximize
the use of genomics data.
Existing tools and approaches have only partially realized the information potential in existing data sets; new algorithms and
user-friendly interfaces are needed; capacity building is required in both areas.
"In the Genomics age, deriving value from life science research and the huge data sets being generated will demand the use of
advanced computational tools. These computational approaches are not an option – they will be obligatory to drive future
growth and innovation in the rapidly-expanding life-science based knowledge economy."
William Crosby, Ph.D.
Member, Science & Industry Advisory Committee
Chair, Workshop Steering Committee
Professor, Plant Biology and Bioinformatics, University of Windsor
A workshop was held in December, 2011 to provide advice as to how best to invest the $5 million secured in the 2011 Federal Budget
for these areas as well as to provide significant insight into a broader, long-term strategy for bioinformatics and computational biology.
The workshop brought together bioinformaticians, computational biologists, mathematicians, and genomics experts, along with researchers
from other related disciplines, representatives from funding agencies and other key stakeholders.
Key recommendations from the workshop are:
- Genome Canada should take a lead-role in coordinating the development of a significant, national, multi-year funding program directed to bioinformatics and computational biology.
- Mechanisms should be established to improve coordination and promote interdisciplinary collaborations within the bioinformatics/computational biology community.
- The Canadian bioinformatics community should develop and use data standards and best practices as necessary elements for data integration and modeling.
- Programs should be developed to attract, retain and train innovative individuals in the areas of bioinformatics, computational biology and bio-statistics who have an interest in working in the life sciences.
- A coordinated and well-managed high-performance computing infrastructure that is targeted for life sciences should be supported.
- Algorithms and software must be developed with the end user in mind and based on established best practices.
- The community should work closely with Genome Canada and Government agencies to ensure appropriate policies and legislation are in place to realize the full potential of Canada’s bio-economy.
Following the workshop, a Task Force was created to further develop the ideas from the workshop and promote their implementation. Next steps include:
- Developing a research competition (RFA) in bioinformatics and computational biology that is expected to launch in May 2012.
- Developing a framework for building a national strategy for bioinformatics and computational biology.
Click here to view the full report (in PDF)
This workshop was made possible with the generous support of our sponsors: