As the field of functional genetics and genomics is beginning to mature, we become confronted with new challenges. The constant drop in price for sequencing and gene expression profiling as well as the increasing number of genetic and genomic variables that can be measured makes it feasible to address more complex questions. The success with rare diseases caused by single loci or genes has provided us with a proof-of-concept that new therapies can be developed based on functional genomics and genetics.
Common diseases, however, typically involve genetic epistasis, genomic pathways, and proteomic pattern. Moreover, to better understand the underlying biologi-cal systems, we often need to integrate information from several of these sources. Thus, as the field of clinical research moves toward complex diseases, the demand for modern data base systems and advanced statistical methods increases.
The traditional statistical methods implemented in most of the bioinformatics tools currently used in the novel field of genetics and functional genomics are based on the linear model and, thus, have shortcomings when applied to nonlinear biological systems. The previous work on partially ordered data (Wittkowski 1988; 1992), when combined with theoretical results (Hoeffding 1948) and computational strategies (Deuchler 1914) has opened a new field of nonparametric statistics. With grid technology, new tools are now feasible when screening for interactions between genetics (Wittkowski, Liu 2002) and functional genomics (Wittkowski, Lee 2004).
Having more complex study designs and more specific methods available increases the demand for decision support when selecting appropriate bioinformatics tools. With the advent of rapid prototyping systems for Web based database application, we have recently begun to complement previous work on knowledge based systems with graphical Web-based tools for acquisition of DESIGN and MODEL knowledge.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/knut_wittkowski/1/