Inevitably, there will be those who believe in the value of high throughput data collection in biology and those who propose that it’s a waste of time and resources. At a time when powerful new methodologies emerge, such extreme views can be expected. The argument is usually about the ultimate value of investing large sums of public money in megaprojects, versus funding individual, hypothesis-driven research programs. A current diatribe concerns the international Protein Structure Initiative, a megaproject aimed at determining the three-dimensional structures of all proteins. A lively debate is taking place in the pages of the journal, Genome Biology. Gregory Petsko, a biochemist at Brandeis, has taken on PSI with a cheerfully-written article with the provocative title An Idea Whose Time Has Gone. Not surprisingly, European proponents of PSI came back with a spirited rejoinder telling us that they think this is “an idea whose time has come.” At the end of their article, there is a rebuttal by Petsko. Point, counterpoint.
We invite readers to come to their own conclusion about which way the arrow points. Conciliatory sorts that we are, perhaps there is a middle ground. At any rate, this is food for thought and highly readable stuff.