Monday, 28 May 2012

Am I really a bioinformatician?

A bioinformatician is someone who creates computational tools that address biological questions.

A computational biologist is someone who uses computational tools to address biological questions.

There are four classes of computational tools, algorithms, workflows, databases and interfaces. I have created each in the past. I was a bioinformatician! These days most of my time is spent deploying and maintaining the computational tools of others; so am I still a bioinformatician? I'd like to hope so, and therefore propose a new classification - the operational bioinformatician to describe myself and those like me, to be distinguished from the research bioinformaticians who get all the fun creative jobs. Oh well, let's hope any future bifx union treats perl scripting as an operational rather than research activity.