Introduction to Bioinformatics – Arthur M. Lesk

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Introduction to Bioinformatics By Arthur M. Lesk

The book has a number of attractive features that carried through the seven chapters.

The connection between bioinformatics and the Internet is emphasized in the preface to the book; the link to the online portion of the text is also identified at this point. Each chapter contains links to online resources that are available on the textbook web site.

Each chapter contains clearly identified learning objectives that will lend themselves easily to teaching, learning, and assessment in classroom or laboratory courses.

There are three types of problems in the book. Exercises are designed to help readers review the content in each chapter. Problems are designed for deeper thought, but can also be answered based on the materials in the text. Weblems are web‐based problems that provide hands‐on practice with popular web applications for bioinformatics.

The writing is clear and understandable. I have read other textbooks with similar titles that left me feeling a deep need to take one or two bioinformatics courses before reading the book; the Lesk’s textbook really does explain things at a level that should make sense to scientists who have taken introductory courses in biology and chemistry. He also provides a few peaks into more advanced techniques such as PERL programming; after reading this book, I really believe I could pick that up fairly quickly if it was needed.

The figures and tables are clear, logical, and easy to follow. They facilitate the reader’s movement from simple concepts to more complex applications of these ideas.

The book is grounded very thoroughly in the biological sciences. The author has written four other textbooks about proteins and genomes. The examples in the text and the problems at the end of each chapter provide a bioinformatics perspective on many questions that we discuss in our biochemistry and molecular biology courses.

New concepts are introduced and explained based on common real‐life experiences. For example, different approaches to sequence alignment are presented first in the form of word matching in sentences. In another case, current approaches to protein folding are compared to assembly of furniture and construction of archways.

In summary, Introduction to Bioinformatics is thoughtful and well written. The paperback version is reasonably priced (<$50). It is well integrated with the Internet and contains terrific examples and effective problems/weblems. This text would be very effective for a freestanding course in bioinformatics for biochemistry students. It would also be suitable for a hands‐on computer lab course in the January mini‐term that is available on some campuses, or simply as a second semester biochemistry lab course (4 hours/week) that would need to meet in a computer lab. Chapter 3 (Scientific publications and archives: media, content, and access) would be an excellent resource for a course in chemical or biochemical literature; this would be especially true if the text is already required for one of the laboratory courses mentioned earlier.

 

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