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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, January 1993; 4(5)

Bioinformatics, Supercomputing, and Complex Genome Analysis

The Second International Conference on Bioinformatics, Supercomputing, and Complex Genome Analysis, hosted by the Supercomputer Computations Research Institute of Florida State University (FSU), was held June 4-7, 1992, at St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. The meeting, sponsored by DOE, the National Science Foundation, and industrial vendors, was attended by leading computational experts, experimentalists, and technologists from 13 countries. The conference goal was to provide a forum for experts from industry and academia to share ideas about the development of sophisticated methods for storing, retrieving, and interpreting the enormous amount of raw data being generated worldwide through the Human Genome Project. Keynote addresses were made by Robert J. Robbins (Director, Welch Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University) and Charles Cantor (Boston University).

Computers Essential to Genome Research

Robbins stated that the genome project-an attempt to create a database containing instructions for human development-is the most audacious information-management program ever undertaken. Computers are already playing an essential role in genome research: laboratory databases manage research materials; computer-controlled robots perform experimental manipulations; automated data-acquisition systems log experimental results; analytic software assists in interpreting data; software packages visualize data; and public databases allow scientists to share their findings with the world. Advanced computer tools will soon be required for manipulating, analyzing, and comparing entire genomes easily and quickly.

Analysis Strategies

Cantor reviewed the different levels of genome analysis and presented a strategy for going beyond current methods. He suggested that when the appropriate technology becomes available, the simultaneous study and analysis of complex genomes might be possible by using pools of samples, probes, or both.

More than 50 talks focused on problems and solutions involving complex genome analysis. Participants' key concerns fell into six major topic areas:

  • Linguistic approaches to deciphering the genetic code by determining the grammar of genetic texts as sentences or paragraphs.
  • Applications of neural networks to discern (1) splice junctions between fragments of DNA and (2) DNA or protein structure and function.
  • Databases to store, handle, and disseminate data.
  • Construction and integration of genetic maps of organisms and humans.
  • Development of the best and fastest algorithms for genome sequence data analysis and interpretation.
  • Testing of mapping and sequencing theories and models through interaction between theorists and experimentalists.

Although no special session was held on computer technology and mathematical models, the conference was interspersed with talks by vendors and mathematicians. Attendees agreed that computer power and speed are basic requirements for information handling and that new mathematical algorithms and computational methods can potentially transform information storage, visualization, interpretation, and transmission.


The conference helped make the community aware of the current status and future challenges of bioinformatics and complex genome analysis. It also led to new ideas and collaborations between industry and academia and introduced new investigators to the field.

Florida State University
Supercomputer Computations Research Institute
Richard Skoonberg
Hwa Lim

Conference proceedings (ISBN: 981-02-1157-0), edited by Lim, James Fickett (Los Alamos National Laboratory), Cantor, and Robbins, will be published this spring by World Scientific Publishing Company; 1060 Main St., Suite 1B; River Edge, NJ 07661 (800/227-7562, Fax: 201/487-9656, Internet:

Reported by Richard Skoonberg and Hwa Lim
Florida State University

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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v4n5).

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.