ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Information Science, Biomedical Research and Standards are Focus of Two Conferences

New York, Oct 28, 2003

The last decade has seen an explosive increase in the use of information science and technology within all areas of biology and medicine. From molecular biology to genomics to organism modeling, research has become dependent on databases, software and networks that proliferate everyday. Information technology standards are a key aspect to ensuring that this happens.

Biomedical computing is rapidly becoming an essential partner in transforming research data into biomedical knowledge. With this in mind, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is convening a symposium on November 6-7, 2003, to explore how biologists and computer scientists are laying the foundation for scientific discoveries touching every aspect of the NIH mission.

According to conference organizers, ““Digital Biology: The Emerging Paradigm” will offer a broad look at contemporary issues arising from the convergence of biomedical and computational research. Its purposes are twofold:

  • To demonstrate how computational approaches to biomedical research have yielded breakthroughs that advance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease
  • To identify national research needs and opportunities in the computational and quantitative sciences critical to the future of biomedical discovery

Key issues to be addressed include (1) the mounting scientific imperative to study biological systems at multiple levels of organization, (2) the growing need to use quantitative approaches to analyze biomedical data on a large scale, and (3) the potential impact of extensive computer networks on the nature and conduct of biomedical research.

Preceding the event, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is partnering with NIH to offer a two-day conference to identify opportunities for information science (IS) standards and standards development to facilitate bioscience and biomedical research. The event, entitled “Information Science Standards to Enable Biomedical Research,” will be held on November 4 and 5, 2003, in Bethesda, Maryland.

The goal of the event is to define the current and emerging state of information science (IS) standards related to bioscience and biomedical research, and to identify barriers and gaps to, and opportunities and pathways for, IS standards development and implementation to enhance bioscience and biomedical research.

This workshop brings together researchers in biology and medicine with experts on data, networks, and computation to discuss how and why such standards are required for bioscience and biomedical research. Pre-conference materials indicate that the workshop will focus on three specific areas:

  • Biomedical Data Integration Standards. (e.g., ontology, data format, nomenclature) The goal of this session is to assess current standards associated with the integration and use of massive and complex data sets from diverse, distributed sources and different levels of biological systems and identify areas where more (or different) is needed.
  • Networked Science. As we enter an era of intensely collaborative science enabled by intelligent computer networks and the teragrid -- the world's largest, fastest, distributed infrastructure for open scientific research. What IS standards are needed to harness this computer power to advance biology and medical research? How will such standards foster the virtual laboratories of the future?
  • Quantitative Computational Biology. Advances in computation power, networking, modeling and applied mathematics have made quantitative computational biology a reality. The analysis and interpretation of biological knowledge increasingly results from modeling of complex biological phenomena. What standards are required to improve today’s environment for quantitative computational biology?

Dr. Arden Bement, NIST director, will open the conference with welcoming remarks.

For more information, or to register, please visit the NIST conference website.