The enormous advances in biological technology over the past four decades have led to a profound change in how information is processed; conceptual and technical developments in experimental and molecular biology disciplines such as genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, immunomics, and countless other “omics” have resulted in a veritable sea of data with the potential to radically alter biomedicine. Yet, with this wealth of data comes a challenge, namely how to transform the data into information, the information into knowledge, and the knowledge into useful action.
Nearly coincident with the advances in biological science, and in fact rapidly outpacing such advances, has been the advent of the modern computer and the associated advances in information storage, retrieval, and processing made practical with microelectronics and informatics. The power of modern information technology is ideal for capturing and storing the huge volume of biological data being generated; however, the respective languages and concepts of biology and computer sciences have, until recently, been disparate enough to prevent the logical next step of combining the two disciplines into a more powerful tool. The discipline of bioinformatics has emerged to capture the information stored in living systems and help turn it into actionable technology. In this paper we will explore the precepts of this discipline, the tools, and the potential for the future inherent in this powerful meta-technology.