GENOMICS was defined in the 1980s as the new discipline of mapping, sequencing, and analyzing genomes, that is, the study of genes and their function in organisms on a global rather than a local scale. Proteomics, the study of the PROTEin complement to a genOME, emerged in the 1990s as the qualitative and quantitative comparison of proteomes under different conditions to further unravel biological processes. Both subject areas are at the forefront of the revolution taking place in biological and medical research, which is transforming them from data poor to data rich fields. While most biomedical research continues to be centered around single investigators or small groups of investigators, recording their experimental data in notebooks, increasing use is being made of novel technologies generating massive amounts of data, and requiring careful computational, mathematical, or statistical analyses. In this third year of the MBI, our focus is on these aspects of genomics and proteomics.
A major milestone in genomics was the completion of the mapping and sequencing of human and mouse genomes in the period 2001-2003. This followed the sequencing of many bacterial genomes, as well as those of numerous other species of biological or medical importance, such as yeast, the roundworm, and the malaria parasite and its associated mosquito vector. This massive amount of DNA sequence data brings with it the ability to make progress on the molecular mechanisms of disease, including the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors, and to generate thousands of new biological targets for the development of drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, and therapies. Further, fundamental biological research is greatly aided by this wealth of data, permitting not only a genome-wide perspective in the study of particular organisms, but a greatly enhanced evolutionary perspective through the use of comparative genomics.
Two recent reviews which provide valuable perspectives on the subject matter of the coming year are: Chipping forecast, II. (2002, December). Nature Genetics Supplement 32, pp. 465-552; and Nature Insight Proteomics (2003, March). Nature 422 13, pp.191-237.