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OiB 98 Themes Indicate Standardized Biology Technology is Nearer Reality

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HINXTON, UK --More than 200 users and vendors of bioinformatics tools and genomic data will converge at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus here for the second Objects in Bioinformatics conference August 3-4. August being vacation season here, attendance is expected to be down slightly from last year's event, but "the quality and variety of poster presentations demonstrates how far the field has moved in the last 12 months," observed Alan Robinson of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) outstation of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, the host of the conference.

The work of the Life Sciences Research Task Force toward establishing standards within biology through the use of CORBA and IDL will be a main theme at the meeting, Robinson said.

"Through technologies such as CORBA being demonstrated at Objects in Bioinformatics the possibility of integrating biological information from, for example, sequence, metabolic, regulatory, and expression databases in a coherent, standardized manner is becoming a reality. This promises a very exciting future for functional genomics research that requires pooling data from many disparate sources," Robinson remarked.

He said another theme that emerged from the 35 poster presentations and more than 20 invited speakers is "the development and application of object-oriented databases for capturing and storing biological information." For example, a presentation by Richard Baldock of the UK's Medical Research Centre will demonstrate how his group is developing a digital atlas of mouse development for use as a spatial reference and standardized nomenclature for a gene-expression database.

Other highlights will include presentations on the latest developments in applying CORBA technology to provide better access to databases of EST information, tools for comparative genomics, the integration of chemoinformatics and bioinformatics, and a case study of how Java and CORBA are being used by Zeneca Pharmaceuticals to support bioinformatics-based research and development.

Registrants hail from pharmaceutical, software, biotech, and genomic companies; and research institutes and genome and bioinformatics centers worldwide. Dele gates are expected from across Europe, the US, Canada, Japan, and Australia. Visit the conference website at http://www.ebi.ac.uk/oib98/.

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