Three years ago, when a colleague would approach us with questions about functional genomics and the informatics techniques required to leverage the data obtained from measurement techniques such as DNA microarrays, we had a standard response: "Come listen to a 1-hour presentation by one of us and you'll have a foundation for further discussions." Since then, this response has become inadequate. First, the field can hardly be summarized in even eight 1-hour lectures, and second, the growth in the number of potential collaborators has far outstripped the time available to us to make the necessary presentations.
In early 2000, Ben Reis, one of the graduates of the Children's Hospital Informatics Program, had the inspired idea of formalizing our introductory presentations into a book. We immediately agreed that this was a timely suggestion and to its credit, so did The MIT Press. In our teaching duties in several courses within the Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) at Harvard/MIT the range of topics within functional genomics that we were covering in formal presentations grew rapidly. Subsequently, with the inception of the Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics training program at HST and the development of a Genomic Medicine course at HST, we felt the need for this book all the more acutely.
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