Koln-bonn region becomes bioinformatics center

Kolner enzyme database to be made available to researchers worldwide via the Internet

Six bioinformatics centers nationwide are to be expanded over the next five years, with a total of up to 100 million marks in funding requested. Koln will play a special role. Here, an enzyme database is being created that researchers worldwide will later be able to click into via the Internet

As the mother science of all academic disciplines, philosophy has in the course of its history released many sciences from their thrust. At the same time "Children", that she once brought into the world, meanwhile long since grown up herself. They also currently enjoy a coarse offspring.

One of its offspring is bioinformatics, a comparatively young field that is gradually growing into an independent scientific discipline. This development is now being driven forward by a landmark decision of an international panel of experts, which, on the basis of project outlines submitted, has selected the Koln/Bonn research association from a rough number of competitors as one of the new national bioinformatics competence centers to be established.

100 million marks for six centers

The six centers nationwide are to be challenged with a total of up to 100 million marks over the next five years. Bioinformatics is the central basis for using the results of genome research to develop new drugs and therapeutic approaches. It makes it possible to decipher the information in human DNA, to understand the function of proteins as biocatalysts or, for example, in the immune system, as well as to network the information collected worldwide in the most diverse data collections and to make it available and interpretable for researchers.

The task of the competence centers is to develop, in interdisciplinary working groups from universities, industry and other research institutions, innovative tools for the use of the enormous amounts of data generated in the genome research projects. These bioinformatics tools can provide information about genetic defects, evolution of organisms, and generally about the functioning of body cells, and thus play a crucial role in the development of new drugs and therapeutic approaches, for example. At the same time, the centers, in cooperation with the universities, are to contribute to meeting the demand for bioinformaticians through the rapid establishment of postgraduate study programs.

Federfuhrung in Koln

The lead in the joint application lies with Professor Dr. Dietmar Schomburg from the Institute of Biochemistry at the University of Koln. Professor Schomburg has been one of the first in Germany to work in this field for 15 years and has made his chair one of the most important points of contact for questions in the field of functional parameters of enzymes (biocatalysts) within an internationally widespread cooperation network. The enzyme database developed by the Koln researchers will be made available to researchers worldwide via the Internet. It has special importance for research projects in the field of metabolism and its disorders, evolution, biotechnology and registers more than 50 projects per month.000 requests.

In October 2000, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research had launched the "Bioinformatics training and technology offensive" launched. The background to this is the explosive growth in the importance of bioinformatics in almost all areas of modern life sciences. At the same time, there is a glaring shortage of well-trained bioinformaticians in Germany and other industrialized nations, which already represents a bottleneck for many biotechnology companies and research institutions. But this negative trend could soon be a thing of the past.

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