Bioinformatics as an experimental science

Bioinformatics isn’t just about storing biological data in databases, it also concerns conducting experiments on that data. Finding a database entry you are interested in is database searching, but as soon as you want to draw a conclusion from your search – inferring homologues of a protein of interest for example – you are conducting an experiment and need to apply the same scientific methodologies in terms of controls etc. that you would to an experiment in the laboratory.

It’s also important that you make an informed choice when deciding which computational method to use, and that you understand the advantages and limitations of the method that you’re using.

Types of bioinformatics experiments

We’ve explored how bioinformatics data are stored and how they are structured and annotated. Now we will learn how you can get to the data and how might you use them to inform the scientific discovery process. 

There are a large number of techniques for analysing huge amounts of biological data. In this course we will treat the core databases as a gateway to scientific literature with added, structured, data to help you perform more systematic searches than you would be able to perform using a literature database alone.

As part of that, in the following sections we consider four different types of bioinformatics experiment: searchingcomparingmodelling and integrating