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Computational Biology in MU in 2005
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Computational Biology in MU in 2005

This meeting is motivated by the development of computational biology as exciting and rapidly growing field of science. We would like to initiate the annual tradition of friendly, informal summer schools for scientists and students interested in these topics. Computational biology is newly established study programme in Masaryk University that needs to encourage mutual communication and exchange of experiences among specialists from different branches.

Our educational mission is to facilitate and enhance collaboration among postgraduate students and scientists that process biological and clinical data at different levels. Principal programming aim is to present scientific papers related to the field of computational biology, biostatistics and applied informatics. The intended participants are undergraduate and first - second year graduate students. Each key topic will be introduced and led by experienced scientist. All participating students are eligible for funding, including those more junior or more senior. Other participants are also welcome, but our funding is limited mostly to students and to invited speakers.

Incorporation of computational science among traditional biological disciplines is not always straightforward. One can argue that computational biology represents some type of escape from real biological, "natural" research. The concept of the computational biology that is to be introduced in the summer school is thus closely related to standard biological disciplines and their modern trends (bioinformatics, processing of large scale data from genomics to ecological biomonitoring, risk assessment, predictive modeling...). Computational biology really helps us to find respect to complexity and functionality of biological systems. It is mostly not possible to carry out adequate assessment of the large scale systems with traditional experimental techniques that have been successful in smaller systems with limited heterogeneity.

The inspiring substance of computational biology is intrinsically inter-disciplinary which will be fully reflected in sessions in our summer school. The contribution of different disciplines is however not balanced and the asymmetry even seems to limit required complexity. Some of very new and progressive branches give their fingerprint to the whole biological computational world. For example, web search based on keywords "computational" and "biology" typically returns tens of links to computational molecular biology in the first line, while the references for the other biological fields are rather rare. In terms of biology, we have a substantial diversity in methodological approaches, some of them however became dominant (molecular science, experimental genomics) and some are like rare species that should be protected.

In contrast to this evident reality, we define computational biology in a broad sense as umbrella branch and methodological platform for all standard biological and clinical disciplines. Key assumption for this approach is the fact, that all levels of biological systems in full evolutional hierarchy deserve treatment of data, modelling of behavior, structure, functionality, diversity... Our summer school gives the same space to the experimental applications, molecular modelling, ecologically or environmentally oriented research, and computerized clinical trials as well. So, feel free to present here any application of mathematics and informatics in any type of biological and clinical research.

Some of the barriers that limit computational efforts in standard experimental or environmental fields are obvious. In contrast to relatively easy issue of novel bio-tests or molecular indication method, timescales are long and the ability to follow the biological system in more complex level (organism, population, and ecosystem) is limited by cost and organizational constraints. In some key fields (biodiversity monitoring, fate of persistent compounds, epidemiology) it is hard to collect representative data in sufficient period of time. Processing and interpretation of often incomplete data from natural systems is then dependent on effective computational techniques, mostly supported by computer-assisted simulation. Our summer school should therefore address also problems related to environmental and ecological informatics and modelling.

1st summer school on computational biology will cover namely following topics:

  • development of novel computational, stochastic, graphical, mathematical or algorithmic methods to analyze and interpret biological, biomedical and clinical data
  • discovering causal relationships among components of biological systems and biologically influential external/internal factors
  • experimental design and optimization, data management in biology and medicine
  • bridging among separate biological and clinical areas with creative computational approaches
  • applied informatics (new information and communication technologies) and its role in biology and medicine, machine learning, knowledge mining
  • bioinformatics, molecular modelling
  • environmental informatics (enviromatics)
  • quantitative approaches in biology and medicine
  • e-learning tools focuses on biology, medicine and mathematics

We hope that summer school will help to initiate new stimulating collaboration and to strengthen the position of this new study programme.

On behalf of programme and organizing committee

Ladislav Dušek

Jiří Hřebíček

1st International summer school on COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY is organized by

Institute of Biostatistics and Analyses
Faculty of Science and Faculty of Medicine, Masaryk University, Kamenice 126/3 Brno, Czech Republic