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Edward Kiruluta, Chief Technology Officer, DoubleTwist

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AT A GLANCE Studied electrical engineering at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.

Prior to joining DoubleTwist in June 1995, developed a relational database management system at 4D Inc. and held senior technical positions at MacSys, a Canadian systems integrator, and Transport Canada Telecommunications.

Interests include trail running, mountain biking, and soccer.

QWhere will bioinformatics be in two years? Five years?

AAdvances in data acquisition technologies continue to generate large amounts of diverse and complex datasets, yet there is a growing need to integrate these datasets in order to ask meaningful biological questions.

Therefore, in the next few years I believe bioinformatics will continue to focus on data management. Much of the technology required to do this already exists and has been applied successfully to other domains, but the challenge is in understanding the relationships between biological data types, representing them appropriately, and choosing or building the right technology to manage and store them.

Already, bioinformatics teams at several organizations have developed systems that integrate a subset of the available datasets to enable valuable data mining. I see us moving toward potentially more interoperable systems, such as those that support XML standards.

QWhat are the biggest challenges the bioinformatics sector faces?

ASome of biggest challenges for bioinformatics are: finding or training capable bioinformaticists; managing a growing mountain of diverse data; the data analysis required to make sense of the data; providing integrated views of the data so that biologically relevant queries can be performed; managing the problems of data quality and reliability; and building systems that can be easily used by many different classes of users.

QWhat do you see as the most important task for bioinformatics to address beyond genome sequencing?

ASome of the important tasks are: developing, adopting, and supporting standards — it is time to stop recreating the wheel; comparative genomics; and a longer-term objective is to integrate the drug discovery space — target discovery, screening, lead identification, and development.

QWhat non-existing technology is number one on your customers’ wish list?

AIt is a dream: a system that generates and qualifies targets automatically given a therapeutic area.

QDo you see the company more as a software provider or as a consultant?

AWe see ourselves as a solution provider. We develop both software and data, and provide services to enable our customers to solve problems. Services range from integrating our products into a customer’s environment to helping a customer understand and mine our datasets.

QDo you expect to see more M&A activity in the sector?

AI believe some strong bioinformatics companies will continue to remain independent; however they will have to continue to evaluate partnerships that leverage combined strengths to better serve their customers and provide better returns for their shareholders.

QWhat products do you have in the development pipeline?

AI cannot comment on unreleased products but we are always working on improving our offerings. This includes our Prophecy suite — consisting of our annotated human genome database and data mining and visualization tools; CAT — our Clustering and Alignment Tools; and DoubleTwist.com — our online solution for genomic research.

QWho are your current customers?

AThere are more than 100 subscribing commercial and academic institutions to DoubleTwist.com and other DoubleTwist products.

QWhat made you decide to enter a career in bioinformatics?

AThe desire to work in an area with such urgent yet complex questions, coupled with an interest in the life sciences.

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