Biotechnology has been used since the 1970s as a means for producing biopharmaceuticals, but its roles in R&D are quite different from those in manufacturing.

Genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics pharmaceutical literature is scattered among a variety of journals and databases. Both academic and commercial laboratories are publishing at an ever-increasing rate, making it difficult for all of the information to be absorbed, integrated, and ultimately put to practical use. In addition, the field is extremely competitive, with potentially huge profits for drug and biotech companies

that can turn promising compounds into marketable products. This can sometimes lead to information silos and secrecy among researchers.

Genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics are fields that were born out of the effort to map the human genome. The "finishing" of the Human Genome Sequence was celebrated in February 2001 on Darwin's birthday. Some would say it was as much a political achievement (aided and abetted by competition between the United States and United Kingdom) as a scientific one. Others echoed Winston Churchill by saying it was "the end of the beginning.'' Much work remains to be done to develop full-fledged clinical applications, but the first genomic successes—oncology drugs Herceptin® and Gleevec®, are already in clinical use.

Although these techniques are all currently utilized by pharmaceutical researchers to speed up the discovery process, they each rely on slightly different methodologies.

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