ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bioinformatics and Genomics Bazaar

The completion of the sequencing of the human genome has opened up enormous business opportunities for bioinformatics, no doubt. How will this wealth of information contribute to better medicare?

Bioinformatics and genomics is now emerging as a global business after the gloss on dot.com has started diminishing and the recently concluded (January 15-17, 2001) International Symposium on Bioinformatics and Genomics organised jointly by the government of Karnataka and the CII at the Indian Institute of Science bears testimony to the increasing interest of multinational paharma companies like AstraZeneca, Biocon India and DSQ and others to wean young biotech students and venture capitalists to this emerging lucrative business. In this bazaar efforts were made by US firms like Viaken Systems, SurroMed, Spotfire, Proteome, Molecular Simulations and several others to wean the Indian professionals particularly in IT to switch to the bioinformatics and genomics business. The US in particular is facing an acute shortage of humanpower in this field and hence this bazaar. In the words of S M Krishna, the chief minister of Karnataka, who inaugurated this symposium there is need to use the emerging biotechnology for ensuring gains in agriculture, pisciculture and sericulture so as to help the poor farmers. But the three-day symposium never touched the topics like how biotech could help impoverished cotton farmers who are committing suicide because of cotton crop failure in Karnataka, how GM foods are good or bad for human health, how Monsanto cottonseed trials currently conducted in Karnataka would help the cotton farmers, etc. Sadagopan of Indian Institute of Information Technology echoed the words of prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who said IT meant India of tomorrow when he said BT meant biotech of tomorrow.

With the arrival of the human genome project genome hunters worldwide are now trying to marry computer technology and biology (better known as computational biology) to transform medicine and life sciences. The IBM has built Blue Gene to help biologists explore how proteins fold themselves up into their distinctive shapes. A typical protein contains thousands of atoms and the forces on every atom must be evaluated for each time-step. Hence there are global business opportunities for bioinformatics and genomics professionals and the Bangalore bazaar was organised to promote that business indeed.

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