Computational Biology

Dear STAMAsters,

The following note came through from Sandy Tonneson through the
Sci-Tech-Healthcare Listserve (STHC-L) in the USA. Apologies to members of
both listserves for double postings (we are trying to sort this one out but
for the moment there will be some double posting)

Cheers ... Gavan

     This message came across my email lines, which prompted thoughts about 
     the archival aspects of computational biology electronic data. New 
     challenges are arising for archivists every day!
     Sandy Tonnesen
     Sandia National Laboratories
     From the Ecological Society of America newsgroup:
     Senate Hearing on Computational Biology
     On September 17 the Senate Subcommittee on Science,
     Technology, and Space held a hearing on computational biology. Several 
     biologists of various areas of expertise gave testimony on the 
     numerous benefits that have resulted from advances in computer 
     technology giving application examples from their specific 
     disciplines.  Among the issues discussed were information sharing and 
     availability, computational neurobiology, genome analysis, ecosystem 
     ecology, evolutionary biology, and the development of the field 
     The emerging field of computational biology was defined by Dr.
     Mary Clutter of the NSF as the application of advances in computer, 
     mathematical, and information sciences to solve biological problems 
     requiring large scale computation and analysis.  One of the major 
     scientific needs addressed by this field is the analysis of complex 
     biological systems.  The development and application of new and more 
     advanced analytic tools such as algorithms, modeling techniques, and 
     theoretical constructs have proven invaluable in the study of 
     ecosystem ecology and resource management, said Clutter.
     ESA member Dr. Ingrid C. Burke of Colorado State University's
     Department of Forestry Sciences attested to the current and future 
     impacts of computer technology in her field.  She explained how 
     simulation modeling is enabling scientists to more easily recognize 
     the impacts of changes in the relationships of given ecosystems which
     helps to more clearly understand both our current and future 
     situations. Dr. Burke also addressed how biological information, when 
     with social and economic data, can be channelled through these models 
     to provide information on the future effects and the sustainability of 
     human land use.  For example, answers to essential questions
     concerning the future viability of certain socioeconomic regions can 
     be predicted though such models by predicting a region's 
     susceptibility to drought, floods, erosion, or climatic change, all of 
     which can lead to better management policies.
     The panel members described computational biology as an
     exciting new field which is providing endless possibilities for 
     biological research.  It is responsible for both the creation of new 
     and more complete models leading to better information as well as the 
     management and dissemination of that information.  The testimony of 
     the witnesses
     was received favorably by the chairman of the subcommittee Senator 
     Conrad Burns.  The other members of the witness panel were: Dr. David 
     L. Kingsbury of the Johns Hopkins University Division of Biomedical 
     Information Sciences, Dr. John C. Mazziotta of the UCLA School of 
     Medicine's Department of Neurology,  and Dr. Robert J. Swenson, 
     Vice-President for Research, Creativity, and Technology Transfer at 
     Montana State University - Bozeman.
     For more information contact the Science, Technology, and Space
     Subcommittee at 202/ 224 - 8172.

*   Gavan McCarthy - Director                          
*    Australian Science Archives Project                         
*     University of Melbourne                                         
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*        Carlton, Vic. 3053 Australia                                  
*         gavan@asap.unimelb.edu.au                             
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* ------->Recovering Science and Technology in Australia