[BiO BB] Bioinformatic and the Smith-waterman

Temple F. Smith tsmith at darwin.bu.edu
Tue Jul 31 11:38:36 EDT 2007

Jeff for the record:

  Jean-Michel Claverie of France used the term "bio-informatik" in some
at the time of the "Waterville Valley computational biology meetings in the
mid to late 80's.  However in his book, Bioinformatics for Dummies I do
not recall that he discusses the origin of the term?  Recall that the term
Informatik is the French word for computer science and Jean-Michel was
one of the early guys in this "field" but true computational biology
goes back
to Haldane (1908) and D'arcy Thompson (1942), Dayhoff (1966) etc .....
to say nothing about the x-ray crystal guys of the last 1950's!! 
Clearly the
term was not used in  1980 to 1982 when Dr. Waterman and I were starting
out!!  And no one "started the Field of Bioinformatics" it grow out of
the molecular
biology with protein sequencing and then DNA/RNA sequencing's need for
databases and computer analysis.  The first such recognized early work
was by
people like Zuckerkandl and Pauling (1965) and Fitch and Margolisash (1967)
and then Needleman and Wuchsch (1977)!  Thus unless the Dr. Hwa A.Lim
can claim to have been doing sequence comparative analysis in the late
he is not a founder! 
       While I was the organizer of the three Waterville Valley Genes
and Machines
meetings to which Jean-Michel attended, I did not use the term for at
least another
two years if I remember correctly.  Also on my visits with Dayhoff and
later Fitch
they both agreed that it was likely Jean-Michel then at the FRENCH
Institute Pasture
who surely used it first --particularly given his use in email as
something he
had been using at home in the Paris Institute.  Thus unless Jean-Michel says
other wise all others making such claims should stop!  This is an old
which I find not funny any more.  In fact the terms is a bit out of date
these days
and the better term is computational biology in any case.

Please pass this on to who ever is still asking this now unimportant

Temple F. Smith, PhD
Boston University

More information about the BBB mailing list