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The Web advertisement for Cambridge Healthtech Institute's Sixth Annual Cheminformatics conference describes the field thus:

"the combination of chemical synthesis, biological screening, and data-mining approaches used to guide drug discovery and development"

But this sounds more like a field being identified by some of its most popular (and lucrative) activities, rather than by including all the diverse studies that come under its general heading.

The story of one of the most successful drugs of all time, penicillin, seems bizarre, but the way we discover and develop drugs even now has similarities, being the result of chance, observation and a lot of slow, intensive chemistry. Until recently, drug design always seemed doomed to continue to be a labour-intensive, trial-and-error process. The possibility of using information technology, to plan intelligently and to automate processes related to the chemical synthesis of possible therapeutic compounds is very exciting for chemists and biochemists. The rewards for bringing a drug to market more rapidly are huge, so naturally this is what a lot of cheminformatics works is about.

Here is a page with a commercial slant which links to some interesting discussions of the term "cheminformatics", what it means, whether or not it exists as a distinct discipline, and even whether it should be replaced by "chemoinformatics".

The span of academic cheminformatics is wide and is exemplified by the interests of the cheminiformatics groups at the Centre for Molecular and Biomolecular Informatics at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. These interests include:

Trinity University's Cheminformatics Web page, for another example, concerns itself with cheminformatics as the use of the Internet in chemistry.

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