GIS and bioinformatics have much in common, most notably digital maps, large databases, and research involving visualization, pattern recognition, and analysis. In general, researchers use GIS techniques and tools to find and track large patterns, for example, geographic distribution of cancer and other diseases in human, animal, and plant populations. Researchers in bioinformatics generally look at very small patterns, such as those in DNA structure that might predispose an organism to developing cancer.
Geoff Jacquez, chairman and chief scientist of TerraSeer, which distributes environmental and health sciences software, said, "The joining of genomics and proteomics with GIS and spatial epidemiology has the potential to provide an enormous breakthrough.
"In the past, GIS and spatial epidemiology focused on finding and monitoring large-scale, population-based occurrences such as disease clusters, outbreaks of infection, or possible associations between cancers and environmental factors," Jacquez continued. "But this exercise was mostly limited to generating hypotheses, not facts.
As a result of new dialog between the fields, as weve had at this conference, we are gaining an important mechanistic link between individual-level processes tracked by genomics and proteomics and population-level outcomes tracked by GIS and epidemiology. This will allow us to do a far better job of monitoring, quantifying, and predicting human-health consequences associated with the
Contact: James B. Campbell Jr.