Prof. Dmitrij Frishman visits the ACGT

Prof. Dmitrij Frishman, Professor of Bioinformatics at the Technical University of Munich, visited the ACGT Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Unit at the University of Pretoria from 10-12 April 2007.

Prof. Frischman is also the Associated Editor of the Bioinformatics journal and a co-founder of the Biomax Informatics AG.

During his visit, he held seminars and presented his work at the University of Pretoria, the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and at the Central Node of the National Bioinformatics Network (NBN) in Cape Town.

In his talk, Prof. Frischman focused on modern procedures used for manual genome annotation and their current status, as well as computational methods and software infrastructure for analysing protein function at genomic scale.

He also described the new version of the PEDANT genome analysis system and its integration with SIMAP, a pre-computed similarity matrix for six million amino acid sequences. Possible ways to reduce the error level of automatically generated annotation by using machine intelligence was also discussed.

During his visit, opportunities for collaboration between Germany and South Africa in the development of services for genome annotation and metagenomic data processing were discussed.

South African bioinformaticists are challenged by the recent acquisition of a modern Roche 454 Genome Sequencer System that was installed at the Inqaba Biotec company (Pretoria). Genomic sequences are being deciphered at an unprecedented pace, and the demand in sequence data is also continuously growing, fuelled by the potential applications which range from personalised genome-based medicine and targeted cancer therapies, to microbial strain optimisation and bioterrorism prevention. New services and bioinformatics tools for fast and reliable data mining in DNA sequences are in great demand.

A fruitful discussion on highlighting how collaboration with leading European bioinformatics institutions may facilitate the services provided by the NBN was also held with Prof. Frischman.