Omics (and Blogonomics)

“omics” has become a suffix from biology, that is spreading into other systems-related thinking.  Robert Lee Hotz writes about the rise and history of “ome” and “omics”.

Over the past decade, a linguistic trickle swelled into a flood of buzzwords tagged with the curiously resonant suffix “ome.” Today, hundreds of “omic” terms have worked their way into the lexicon, coined mostly by scientists intent on creating new sub-specialties.

“It sounds futuristic. It sounds computational,” said medical geneticist Robert C. Green at Harvard Medical School, who studies what he and his colleagues call the incidentalome—the realm of all incidental medical findings. “When you use the term “omics,” it signals you are a new paradigm guy.”

Generally, the new terms in scientific literature are meant to highlight the study of a comprehensive collection of data—such as all proteins in a cell (the proteome), all patent law rulings (the patentome) or all human culture (the culturome). Researchers hope to attract attention—and perhaps funding—by giving their topic a name brand that echoes the broader scientific advances of genomics.

Some scientists roll their eyes at this speedily spreading suffix. “It’s a language parasite,” said evolutionary biologist Jonathan Eisen at the University of California, Davis.

German botanist Hans Winkler coined the word genome in 1920, in an echo of the word chromosome, to describe the complete set of a plant or animal’s genes. The word genomics, though, wasn’t invented until 1986, when researchers were planning the Human Genome Project to map the 3.3 billion base pairs of DNA that make up the average human genetic inheritance.

The suffix skyrocketed. By latest count, 404 technical terms use it, according to, an online clearinghouse for information about the new fields.

From Robert Lee Hotz | Here’s an Omical Tale: Scientists Discover Spreading Suffix | August 13, 2012 | Wall Street Journal at

Increasingomics |

An open community has developed over at, to make sense of the growing vocabulary.

Definition of Omics:

Omics is a general term for a broad discipline of science and engineering for analyzing the interactions of biological information objects in various omes. These include genome, proteome, metabolome, expressome, and interactome. The main focus is on 1) mapping information objects such as genes, proteins, and ligands, 2) finding interaction relationships among the objects, 3) engineering the networks and objects to understand and manipulate the regulatory mechanisms, and 4) integrating various omes and omics subfields.

  • The Prefix- and -Suffix of bioinformatics: Bio- and -Omics
  • Difference from Systems Biology and Bioinformatics
    Systems biology is “biology” that focuses on complex systems in life.
    Omics focuses on large scale and holistic data/information to understand life in encapsulated omes (in many distinct biolayers)
    Bioinformatics is an information science that analyzes life processes using computational tools for solving biological problems and give direction/overview in biology. See the definition of bioinformatics in

An older definition of omics

A new biological research paradigm to produce knowledge en masse from the networks of information objects in holistic principles and methods deviating from reductionism.

See “What is omics” | at .

I originally found the pointers from John Patrick, who is claiming the first use of “blogonomics”.

Robert Lee Hotz [… in] a recent article, he said “In the beginning, there was the genome. Then came the foldome, the phenome and the connectome, quickly followed by the secretome, the otherome and the unknome.” His point is that buzzwords have mushroomed over the past decade.

One of the more robust examples might be the use of the ”omic” terms that worked their way into our vocabularies.  According to, there are now over 404 terms that use the “omic” suffix. Take a look at The Omics Matrix and Integromics to get a birds-eye view of the big picture. [….]

Let history record that today, right here on patrickWeb, is the birth of blogonomics! I searched and got “There were no results matching the query.” Maybe I can license rights to the term at eBay.

From John Patrick | Blogonomics | September 3, 2012 | at

Perhaps John Patrick might have created one of the “worst new omic words”, as listed by Jonathan Eisen at U.C. Davis, except that the biological domain is already pretty big to cover on that blog.


David Ing blogs at , photoblogs at , and microblogs at . See .

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One comment on “Omics (and Blogonomics)
  1. Jack Ring says:

    That’s because they don’t understand systemics. 😉


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