Bioinfomatics Could Revolutionize Health Care
In a special report on America's "Next Frontier," Newsweek examines the emerging field of bioinformatics, in which researchers use supercomputers, "vast" databases and "complex" software to analyze the "mountain" of data resulting from human genome research. Researchers hope to "mak[e] sense of the genome by offering the tools to mine the data and match the DNA info with the genes." According to VentureOne, venture capitalists invested more than $700 million in the field last year, and dozens of universities, including UCLA, have established bioinformatics centers in the past few years. Technology "giants," such as IBM, have also targeted the field as "one of the few growth sectors" in today's economy. Bioinformatics supporters "claim" that the new field will "change health care" by allowing pharmaceutical companies to "shave years off the drug discovery process" and doctors to "tailor medicines to patients' "genetic makeup." Nathan Myhrvold, a Seattle-based biotechnology investor and former chief technology officer at Microsoft, said, "This is as big an opportunity as the computer industry itself. In order to understand how our bodies work, we need to process enormous amounts of information" (Stone, Newsweek, 4/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.