Bioinformatics is currently one of the fastest growing biological disciplines, with well over 1,000,000 DNA and protein sequences now determined and deposited within computerised databases. This data contains a wealth of information hidden within it on everything from protein structure to the location of drug target sites and disease mechanisms. The challenge facing research biologists and the pharmaceutical industries is how to extract biologically useful information from these tens of thousands of sequences. When combined further with clinical and health data, there is a vast amount of information that can be gleaned and deduced using computer science, information theory and biology.
Research within the Bio-Health Informatics Group is led from several different angles. Professor Andy Brass adds a strong bioinformatics influence to the group and is reknowned figure for his work in the field of Bioinformatics and in the Bioinformatics department at the university. Dr Robert Stevens, a Senior Lecturer in the department, adds yet more bioinformatics experience together with plenty of experience in Semantic Web technologies, e-Science and Ontologies. Emeritus Professor, Alan Rector's original and still primary research focus is developing useful and usable clinical systems. His research has branched out to include clinical terminologies, biomedical ontologies and Semantic Web Technologies. He has twenty-five years experience of leading projects on clinical systems, medical terminology including the PEN&PAD and GALEN project. He now also leads the CO-ODE project developing the Protege-OWL ontology development environment in collaboration with Stanford University.
The result is a group with the knowledge to drive the conception and development of new methods and systems for the growing desire to be able to integrate knowledge all the way from the roots of bio-molecular research to their eventual clinical application. In order to do this the group as a whole has a strong bioinformatics and clinical background, along with considerable experience with Ontology development and Semantic Web technologies.