Rise of the omics

 Public Resources Images P1-Bh565B Omics G 20120813175704

Wall Street Journal science reporter Robert Lee Hotz posted a funny-cause-it's-true essay about the curious rise in the suffix "-ome" or "-omics," as in foldome, physiome, biome, and sociomics, pharmacogenomics, datanomics, and on and on. In fact, there's even a scientific journal named Omics, and you can track other bio-related omes over at Omics.org. "It sounds futuristic. It sounds computational," said Harvard medical geneticist Robert C. Greenm who studies the incidentalome (seriously!). "When you use the term "omics," it signals you are a new paradigm guy." Futuristic, eh? That's probably why Institute for the Future's exec director Marina Gorbis sent the article out to the whole staff this morning. OK, Marina, we get the hint. Although futuromics does sound cooler than futurism or futurology.

"Here's an Omical Tale: Scientists Discover Spreading Suffix"


  1. I’m just disappointed that the expression “Obamanomics” hasn’t caught on, because you can totally sing that in place of the phrase “Mah nah mah nah”.

  2. Unique mentions isn’t exactly the most telling benchmark.

    A better one might be unique mentions divided by the number of articles/journals/words indexed (due to the proliferation of academic journals in the last 20 years).

  3. The original article has When you use the term “omics,”, not When you use the term “omits,” which really confused the heck out out of me. Let’s get some editomics here.

    Hey, remember when “-ent” was the new thing? Lucent, Agilent, Telegent…

  4. A quick explainer to answer the “why?,” lest we think all these new fields are some fad because “It sounds futuristic.” Recent advances (to use the cliche) in high-throughput sequencing, data storage and processing, collaboration, etc., have enabled researchers to shift their view from the individual component (e.g. gene) to the entire system (e.g. genome). Because these systems are so much more complex (and important) than the sum of their parts, this is really the holy grail of understanding.
    As for:”When you use the term “omits,” it signals you are a new paradigm guy.”…I’m assuming that this is a spellcheck typo of “omics,” and I think it’s important to understand that he’s not suggesting that scientists choose to use this term because they want to be received as fashionable new hotshots (or so I believe). Rather, we now work in a new paradigm created by these new technologies and techniques, and the “signal” is indicative of this new paradigm. It is not (substantially) indicative of a shift in the word choice of researchers.

     In short, not a fad, but a great leap forward! 

  5. Maybe the success of The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises just has more people talking about comics these days.

  6. You’ve slightly misquoted the article. He says “omics” not “omits” makes you a new paradigm guy.

    1. Comicomics courses are a waste of time. The whole field exists just sponge off of grants and sponsorship brought in by the Fun-gineering department.

      1. On that note, how futuristic is this really, if Zoidberg can solve crimes without a send-away Murderomics degree?

  7. Futuronomics, shirley? And clearly a big slice of dance music criticism is an empty exercise in subgenrificonomics. Or an exploration of the subgenreconome.

    1. No. Futuronomics is where you study the future, sort of like futurology
      though of course the perspective is very different. But futuromics is where you investigate the futurome as a whole.

  8. In the 1940s there was a fad for mashing together the first syllables of words, to make a super-word.  Kind of like an acronym, if we wrote English in hiragana.  So instead of MIT, we would have MassInsTech.  I think it was big in the military, and with the GI’s who brought it home and inflicted it on civilian life.  Have you seen small businesses with names like JoMar and MarJo?  Founded by John and Mary, who were hip in 1947.

    But today it looks weird and dated.  Just like onomastomics will, in 2050.

      1. Wasn’t there a SNL infomercial about becoming rich because you would save time by skipping syllables?

  9. The director of “The Sixth Sense” is finally taking a hint and abandoning all those cheesy supernatural twist movies to pursue a more conventional film starring the lead actress from “Friends.” Not as flashy, but a proven money-making formula. It’s a simple matter of Shyamalan/Aniston-RomCom-nomics.

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