“Molecular biology is dead. Long live molecular biology” Cried Walter Gilbert (Chemistry Nobel Prize winner 1980 along with Paul Berg and Fred Sanger). In many ways, Walter saw the future of computational biology before many others did. In his letter in Nature in 1991 he said:

He was also prescient about what the internet might do to science. Mind you, this was in 1991. The same year when WWW was made available to scientists outside CERN! He said:

Indeed, we hooked up computers to a worldwide network and we created databases that are queried by scientists everyday. Most of the planning and designing of experiments is done on computers, the output of these activities are fed into computers that are linked to robots which carry out the next sets of experiments and which generate novel insights and IP and this virtuous loop keeps turning.

More recently, newer machine learning techniques are being deployed to extract even more insight from multidimensional, often longitudinal data from experiments or from actual patient data stored in EHRs.

Walter Gilbert also warned us that not everyone will be on board with this new paradigm of large scale biology with computers playing important role. Many will object. He didn’t have much time for them. Neither should we.