Is Bioinformatics in San Diego’s Future? A Chat with UC San Diego Expert Lucila Ohno-Machado
One notion that emerged at Xconomy’s event in San Diego last week was that biomedical informatics might have a promising role to play in the region’s economic future. There is no consensus on this as yet, as Luke discovered when he talked with Illumina CEO Jay Flatley.
Among the true believers is UC San Diego’s Lucila Ohno-Machado. No surprises there—since last year, she has been director of biomedical informatics at the medical school. Before arriving in San Diego, she was director of the Harvard-MIT-Tufts-Boston University biomedical informatics training program.
We caught up with her this week via e-mail to find out more about the technology, what it means for the U.S. health care system, and the role she sees for San Diego’s innovation community.
Xconomy: What is biomedical informatics?
Lucila Ohno-Machado: Biomedical informatics is a scientific discipline focused on the development of new algorithms and/or new approaches to organize, visualize, and interpret health-related data in order to promote health and alleviate the burden of disease. The discipline is placed at the intersection of health sciences, biology, computer science, and statistics.
San Diego is in a unique position due to the accumulation of human talent, high-tech companies, and a collective interest in improving healthcare for all. It has all the ingredients to become the number one biomedical informatics center in the country.
X: How is it different from computational biology, which we’ve also been hearing a lot about?
LOM: Computational biology usually relates to the development and application of algorithms and computational strategies to analyze biological data at the molecular level. In biomedical informatics, we develop new algorithms and systems that relate to the full spectrum of data: from molecular to individual to population levels. We often refer to bio-, clinical- or public health-informatics for algorithmic developments and strategies targeting … Next Page »