Bornberg-Bauer E, Harvey M and McMeekin A
Bioinformatics education: skills shortage or fundamental shift in skill creation and demand (#)
European Biopharmaceutical Review 5: 104-110, 2002
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There is a wide perception that the rapid growth in the amount and diversity of digitalised biological data is exceeding the available supply of skills to analyse, process and manage it. In this view, the problem is a skills gap or shortage (1,2). However, it could be argued that there is a far more fundamental issue at stake here. A paradigm shift in the nature of biological sciences is beginning to bear fruit in a new range of technologies across many industries - a parallel technology paradigm shift. From this perspective, the issue of human skills and capabilities is not simply one of supply bottlenecks (due to insufficient existing skills) but one of a top-to-bottom redisciplining of biology and the creation of new patterns of interdisciplinarity. In a recent report for the UK Department of Trade and Industry, the UK bioinformatics scene was analysed with respect to its recent developments and future prospects, through a focus on interactions between industry and academia, knowledge transfer, intellectual property rights (IPR) regimes and public versus private funding (3). It was shown that bioinformatic skills and capabilities are developed in both educational and commercial organisations, and that there are flows between them of both knowledge/information and human skills.