Genes and genomes

A genome is the sum of genetic material of an organism, including all of its genes. It is composed of DNA and contains all the information needed to create and maintain an organism, as well as the instructions on how this information should be expressed. Bioinformatics develops tools to read genomes, store, analyse and interpret the resulting data.

At SIB, several groups are working on the topic genes and genomes as their main field of activity:

Proteins and proteomes

A proteome is the sum of proteins expressed by a cell, a tissue or an organism, at a given time. Proteins are the products of genes, and are involved in nearly every task carried out within an organism – from carrying oxygen to fighting off pathogens. Bioinformatics develops tools to understand the role of proteins.

At SIB, several groups are working on the topic proteins and proteomes as their main field of activity:


Machine learning and text mining

Machine learning (ML) techniques allow computers to learn from data without explicit instructions, and to draw inferences from data patterns. Text mining algorithms, often based on ML, are designed to recognize patterns within text, such as biomedical terms. Bioinformatics is supported by and feeds into ML algorithms, with diverse applications including drug design, biomarker discovery and text mining to facilitate literature triage.

At SIB, several groups are working on the topic machine learning and text mining as their main field of activity:

Evolution and phylogeny

Changes that occur in genomes tell life scientists how an organism has evolved over time. Comparisons made between genomes from different species or populations tell them how they are related to one another – this is the field of phylogenetics. Bioinformatics develops tools to compare the genomes of organisms, as well as computational methods
to reconstruct their past and build their ‘family’ trees.

At SIB, several groups are working on the topic evolution and phylogeny as their main field of activity:

Structural biology

Macromolecules such as DNA and proteins have specific 3D structures that are dictated by their sequence. A protein’s function is defined by its 3D structure, which in turn defines the way it interacts with other molecules. Bioinformatics develops software to create 3D models of proteins to study their interactions with other molecules, such as drugs.

At SIB, several groups are working on the topic structural biology as their main field of activity:

Systems biology

Life occurs and is sustained by a mesh of interactions within and between cells, tissues, organisms and their environment. Understanding how these complex systems function allows scientists to predict what happens if one of the components changes or the conditions are altered. Bioinformatics methods help to predict metabolic pathways.

Core facilities

The quantity of data generated by the life sciences has grown exponentially over the years, and needs to be stored and processed. Researchers also need support in making sense of their data. Core facilities centralize research resources, and provide tools, technologies, services and expert consultation to this end. Bioinformatics core facilities are located in the major Swiss academic institutions