The aims of bioinformatics are threefold. First, at its simplest bioinformatics organizes data in a way that allows researchers to access existing information and to submit new entries as they are produced, eg the Protein Data Bank for 3D macromolecular structures. While data- curation is an essential task, the information stored in these databases is essentially useless until analyzed. Thus the purpose of bioinformatics extends much further.
The second aim is to develop tools and resources that aid in the analysis of data. For example, having sequenced a particular protein, it is of interest to compare it with previously characterized sequences. This needs more than just a simple text-based search and programs such as FASTA and PSI-BLAST must consider what comprises a biologically significant match. Development of such resources dictates expertise in computational theory as well as a thorough understanding of biology.
The third aim is to use these tools to analyze the data and interpret the results in a biologically meaningful manner. Traditionally, biological studies examined individual systems in detail, and frequently compared them with a few that are related. In bioinformatics, we can now conduct global analyses of all the available data with the aim of uncovering common principles that apply across many systems and highlight novel features.