Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics is a computer-based field of science that develops and improves upon methods for retrieving, organising and analysing biological information.

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Meet the Scientists: Professor Graham Ball on his work in bioinformatics
The John van Geest Cancer Research Centre is a unique purpose-built scientific facility in the East Midlands. Our aim is to save lives and speed recovery by improving the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In this video Professor Graham Ball talks about his work with the centre in the bioinformatics area.

All the science we do in the centre generates complex data and that's where the power of computing really pays off. Bioinformatics is a computer-based field of science that develops and improves upon methods for retrieving, organising and analysing biological information.

The two major activities in bioinformatics are to develop mathematical formulas and computer software. These can then be used generate useful biological knowledge. We can work out complex sums in seconds, which would otherwise take great mathematicians years to analyse.

We analyse data to help identify biomarkers to predict the presence of various forms of cancer. We have developed formulas and software, to help us research networks within the human body. By understanding these networks, we can begin solving problems and start to predict:

  • a patient’s response to therapy
  • longer-term disease outcome, and
  • the discrimination between disease and control.

In practical terms our approach has already helped us to identify interactions between genes associated with progression in breast cancer and in proteins associated with response to therapy in prostate cancer.

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