NBBnet - The National Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Network: A Malaysian initiative towards a national infrastructure for bioinformatics
Mat Isa,Mohd Noor
Bioinformatics is a necessary technology and tool, which current molecular biologists cannot do without in light of the genome data explosion and advent of fields such as genomics and proteomics. Yet, even with this in mind, there is still a limited pool of human resource to support and develop bioinformatics particularly in poorer developing nations. The highly multidisciplinary nature of this field can be an obstacle in converting just any molecular biologist into a proficient and capable bioinformaticist. Coupled with the high costs of software, hardware, technical maintenance and systems support; many developing and poor countries may not be able to fully realize their biotech potential either academically or economically due to the inability to fully utilize bioinformatics as a technology to support and co-develop with molecular biology oriented research programmes. Malaysia, a developing South East Asian nation took steps to counter these problems and develop an infrastructure for bioinformatics to support nationally important biotech research agendas, particularly government initiatives in genomics and proteomics, with the setting up of NBBnet - The National Biotechnology and Bioinformatics network. We further propose the setting up of similar models in other developing countries, an endeavour which we are willing to share our experiences and resources. We hope that these networks may in the future evolve into a super network of national or regional networks on biotechnology and bioinformatics.