The Genome Informatics Workshop has been organized annually since December 1990 as a part of the activities of the Genome Informatics Research Project, which is supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Priority Areas from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture (MESC) of Japan. The workshop aims at establishing new research areas bridging biological science and computer science, and developing new computational technologies for genome research. Starting this year we publish the proceedings in English. We feel it is time to start making bridges of international collaborations as well. For those of you who are not familiar with our activities, here is a brief summary of the past workshops.

The MESC Genome Informatics Project officially started in April 1991, but during the preceding year we were performing a pilot study, partly in collaboration with the Institute for New Generation Computer Technology (ICOT) of the Fifth Generation Computer Project. The first workshop was jointly sponsored by us and the ICOT and held December 3-4, 1990 in Tokyo. Fifty papers were presented including keynote addresses by Kazuhiro Fuchi (ICOT) and Minoru Kanehisa (Kyoto University) and invited lectures by Ross Overbeek (Argonne National Laboratory), Yoshiyuki Sakaki (Kyushu University), Akiyoshi Wada (Sagami Chemical Research Center), and Shunichi Uchida (ICOT).

Because the Genome Informatics Project was funded separately from the main body of the MESC Human Genome Project, it was possible for us to independently set up long-range objectives of interdisciplinary research encompassing biological science and computer science. In the second workshop which was held December 9-10, 1991 in Tokyo, we were fortunate to have four invited speakers, two from Japan and two from the U.S. representing the molecular biology community and the artificial intelligence community. They gave the following talks:

There were 39 regular papers presented. We also invited commercial companies to participate and demonstrate their products.

In September 1991 we initiated the computer network "GenomeNet" which we consider an essential component of the infrastructure for genome research. We envision a network community where informatics needs of individual researchers and individual projects are realized by integrating databases and computational resources distributed over the network. In the third workshop of December 14-15, 1992 at the Pacific Convention Plaza in Yokohama, we set up machines with the Internet connection and exchanged ideas of new databases and software tools. There were 20 workstation presentations, in addition to 25 oral and 17 poster presentations. The invited speakers gave the following talks:

In brief, we have been emphasizing match-making and computerization, both probably very Japanese, as the major themes of this workshop series. This year our emphasis is also to make the workshop more international. Thus, we solicited papers written in English for presentations in five oral sessions: database, knowledge processing, parallel processing, sequence analysis, and structure prediction, as well as in poster and workstation sessions. The proceedings contain the papers accepted for 20 oral, 24 poster, and 14 workstation presentations, and the abstracts of eight invited talks. Although we performed a brief review of all submitted papers, we admit that the quality of both science and English varies considerably. I hope the quality will improve every year.

The current Genome Informatics Project lasts for five years until March 1996. By that time we plan to shift the sponsorship of this annual meeting to the Human Genome Center of the University of Tokyo. While there are immediate informatics needs to be met in the ongoing genome projects, the workshop participants may also have dreams of deciphering molecular and cellular aspects of biological information processing up to the life cycle of an organism and the origin and evolution of species. The scope of genome informatics will continue to be expanded. Because the information gathered from the Human Genome Project will have profound impacts on understanding ourselves, we may eventually be match-making natural and social sciences.

Minoru Kanehisa
Principal Investigator
Genome Informatics Research Project