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Overview of NIGMS and Computing Life

Computing Life

From text messaging friends to navigating city streets with GPS technology, we're all living the computing life. But as we've upgraded from snail mail and compasses, so too have scientists.

Computer advances now let researchers quickly search through DNA sequences to find gene variations that could lead to disease, simulate how flu might spread through your school and design three-dimensional animations of molecules that rival any video game.

By teaming computers and biology, scientists can answer new and old questions that could offer insights into the fundamental processes that keep us alive and make us sick.

This booklet introduces you to just some of the ways that physicists, biologists and even artists are computing life. Each section focuses on a different research problem, offers examples of current scientific projects and acquaints you with the people conducting the work. You can follow the links for online extras and other opportunities to learn about—and get involved in—this exciting new interdisciplinary field.

What Is NIGMS?

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) supports basic research on genes, proteins and cells. It also funds studies on fundamental processes such as how cells communicate, how our bodies use energy and how we respond to medicines. The results of this research increase our understanding of life and lay the foundation for advances in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. The Institute's research training programs produce the next generation of scientists and NIGMS has programs to encourage minorities underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral science to pursue research careers. NIGMS supported the research of most of the scientists mentioned in this booklet.

This page last reviewed on April 22, 2011