Bioinformatics FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) - Books
This resource is maintained by and © Damian Counsell, UK Medical Research Council Rosalind Franklin Centre
for Genomic Research (the RFCGR) 1998-2004.
Jump to the table of contents of the whole FAQ.
Books: Can you recommend any
- General introductions
- Computational/Mathematical aspects of bioinformatics
- Applying bioinformatics in biological research
- Other lists of bioinformatics books
It's notoriously difficult to find any books on bioinformatics
itself that cater well for all of those coming from computing, from
mathematics and from biology backgrounds. The few textbooks
available in the field tend to be eyewateringly expensive as well.
I've divided suggested reading into books of general
best suited to people coming from a computational/mathematical
background and books for
biologists interested in bioinformatics. Where a book is also
listed in Bioinformatics.Org's books section I have
linked the title to the relevant entry there. Links to other lists
of bioinformatics books follow this section of suggested
Many people are curious about the Human Genome (Project). The
completion of the first draft probably represents bioinformatics'
coming of age as a discipline. The first couple of books are aimed
at the intelligent layperson.
A gossipy and insightful account of the race to sequence the
genome can be found in "The Sequence" by Kevin Davies
[Weidenfeld; ISBN 0297646982]. Matt Ridley's "Genome"
[Fourth Estate; ISBN 185702835X] is both an interesting layperson's
introduction to the issues raised by the bioinformatic revolution
and an overview of its biology and enormous scope. If I remember
rightly, Ridley's book received a slightly snooty review from Walter
Bodmer. This is understandable, since his and Robin McKie's
excellent "pre-genomic" guide to the Human Genome Mapping Project,
"The Book of Life" [Oxford Paperbacks; ISBN 0195114876] was
undeservedly in a remainders bin when I bought my copy a couple of
If you are a non-biological scientist (or a non-scientist) and
are hooked by these, why not go back to the "real beginning" of the
race and read James Watson's entertaining and indiscreet memoir of
his and Francis Crick's determination of the structure of DNA,
"The Double Helix" [Penguin; ISBN 0140268774]---now
updated with an introduction by media don Steve Jones.
Nigel Barber at Peterborough Regional College in the UK
recommends Gary Zweiger's "Transducing the Genome" [McGraw-Hill
Professional Publishing: ISBN 0071369805]. The summary
at Amazon makes it sound a tad pretentious, but all the reviews seem
pretty positive so it might be worth a read.
If you are a quantitative scientist and would like a deeper
knowledge of contemporary (molecular) biology, but you want to
acquire it as painlessly as possible you could try the following:
- Donna Rae Siegfried's Biology for Dummies [Wiley;
ISBN 0-7645-5326-7] is fun, well thought out and a lot more
informative than the title might suggest. If only all biology
textbooks were this entertaining and unpretentious.
- If you already have some biological knowledge and would like
to get a grip on modern biomolecular science then Richard J.
Epstein's Human Molecular Biology is an elegant,
colourful and detailed guide.
There are two classic competing texts in cell and molecular
biology which Maximilian Haeussler reminds me to include: Alberts
et al's Molecular
Biology of the Cell [Garland Science: ISBN 0815340729]
and Molecular Biology of the Gene [Benjamin Cummings:
(Continued on next part...)