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This article is part of the supplement: Research from the Eleventh International Workshop on Network Tools and Applications in Biology (NETTAB 2011)

Open Access Introduction

Clinical Bioinformatics: challenges and opportunities

Riccardo Bellazzi1*, Marco Masseroli2, Shawn Murphy3, Amnon Shabo4 and Paolo Romano5

Author Affiliations

1 Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale e dell'Informazione, Università di Pavia, Via Ferrata 1, 27100, Pavia, Italy

2 Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione - Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy

3 Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

4 IBM Research Lab in Haifa, Israel

5 IRCCS AOU San Martino - IST Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, 16132, Genova, Italy

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BMC Bioinformatics 2012, 13(Suppl 14):S1  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S14-S1

Published: 7 September 2012

Abstract

Background

Network Tools and Applications in Biology (NETTAB) Workshops are a series of meetings focused on the most promising and innovative ICT tools and to their usefulness in Bioinformatics. The NETTAB 2011 workshop, held in Pavia, Italy, in October 2011 was aimed at presenting some of the most relevant methods, tools and infrastructures that are nowadays available for Clinical Bioinformatics (CBI), the research field that deals with clinical applications of bioinformatics.

Methods

In this editorial, the viewpoints and opinions of three world CBI leaders, who have been invited to participate in a panel discussion of the NETTAB workshop on the next challenges and future opportunities of this field, are reported. These include the development of data warehouses and ICT infrastructures for data sharing, the definition of standards for sharing phenotypic data and the implementation of novel tools to implement efficient search computing solutions.

Results

Some of the most important design features of a CBI-ICT infrastructure are presented, including data warehousing, modularity and flexibility, open-source development, semantic interoperability, integrated search and retrieval of -omics information.

Conclusions

Clinical Bioinformatics goals are ambitious. Many factors, including the availability of high-throughput "-omics" technologies and equipment, the widespread availability of clinical data warehouses and the noteworthy increase in data storage and computational power of the most recent ICT systems, justify research and efforts in this domain, which promises to be a crucial leveraging factor for biomedical research.