As companies begin to collect more information about people and their habits, there has been a veritable explosion of data available to the world. The emergence of “Big data” has especially impacted the biological and health science fields.
Computational biology draws on methods from computer science and mathematics to inform the study of living things. Computational biologists use algorithms to model natural phenomena and discover new patterns in data that humans might not be able to spot on their own.
Several subfields of computational biology exist, though they have experienced varying degrees of interest in the research community. Genomics is one area that has been the subject of considerable scientific interest. Computational genomics studies organism genomes using computational and statistical methods. While still rapidly expanding, computational genomics has already achieved significant results. For example, the Human Genome Project sequenced the base pairs in human DNA, contributing to human understanding of the body.
Computational neuroscience, another burgeoning subfield, attempts to model and understand the brain and nervous system using computing. On a broader level, computational neuroscience attempts to understand the mechanism of cognition and consciousness.
Research in cancer biology has also been informed by new developments in technology and computing. Researchers have attempted to classify and identify tumors, and better understand the relationship between cancer and the human body.
The potential for information science to transform biology is extraordinary. While researchers have already made significant breakthroughs in the interdisciplinary field of computational biology, there is much left to discover.