Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Biological informatics

This research area focuses on understanding information processing in biological systems.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

This research area focuses on understanding information processing in biological systems. It involves the development of novel computational techniques to model and analyse biological data and biological systems.

This area is highly interdisciplinary. It recognises novel technical computer science challenges in retrieving and analysing biological data and the computational modelling of biological systems, including systems and synthetic biology, and neuroinformatics and computational neuroscience.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) support the wider field of bioinformatics research.

We will continue to support research into novel computational modelling, which enables information processing relevant to biological systems. This area is inherently cross disciplinary, with close links to the following research areas:

Projects must be driven by computer science and or mathematics and statistics; no more than half of the intended work should be in the biological and or biomedical application domains. Research on either or both the development or translation of bioinformatics tools is a lower priority for funding; we expect the development or translation of such tools to become increasingly integrated with novel biological science research.

We aim to meet four goals.

Be a cross-disciplinary area of research

We aim to support the wider field of bioinformatics as supported by BBSRC, MRC and NERC and that researchers in this area can contribute to. Biological informatics will be a successful cross-disciplinary area through collaboration with researchers from other areas.

Support novel computational modelling

We support the novel computational modelling aspects of biological informatics, which are very important to systems biology research and complement and support the synthetic biology research area. The synthetic biology roadmap demonstrates the importance of biological informatics to the UK.

Make significant contributions to data science

Our portfolio in this research area also aims to contribute to the data science agenda, and the retrieval and analysis of data in biological systems, through the use of novel computational tools and models.

Monitor interest in neuroinformatics

We will continue to monitor what appears to be growing interest in exploiting advances in neuroinformatics for the design of neural computing, microelectronics, system architectures and autonomous systems, which may tie into the developing area of human-like computing.

Biological informatics research will play a role in delivering the objectives of EPSRC’s data enabled decision making cross-information and communication technology (ICT) priority. To maximise the impact of these contributions, researchers should link to the other related research areas mentioned above.

Why we're doing it

The wider area of bioinformatics has had high-quality papers published in applied biology journals.

Training is mainly being delivered by our Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) with relevance to biological informatics.

The UK has a strong biotechnology industry, with significant growth in medical technology including technologies based on synthetic biology. Biological informatics is key to supporting this growth.

Biological informatics can contribute to the data science agenda through retrieval and analysis of data in biological systems, by using novel computational tools and models. There are drivers for this type of analysis in the growth areas of systems biology, synthetic biology modelling and in-silico modelling for the biotech, medical and pharma sectors, and for the growing area of genomics science.

There also appears to be increasing interest in exploiting advances in neuroinformatics for the design of neural computing, for example.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for biological informatics.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Who to contact

Robert Hicks, Portfolio manager

Email: robert.hicks@epsrc.ukri.org

Last updated: 17 October 2022

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