Omics have been around for several years now, since science perhaps first learned of genomics, the field in biology of studying genes, the whole gamut of such entities being referred to as the genome and ultimately giving rise to that big "Project", you remember the one Blair and Clinton celebrated by almost holding hands. Then, from genes we get proteins and so proteomics and the proteome. The products of protein activity are metabolites and their study became metabolomics, and the attendant chemicals the metabolome. The genome begets the proteome begets the metabolome. So far, so good. The omics suffix simply referring to a totality of one kind or another, a holistic stance, you might say.

But, quantitative studies of metabolites needed an extension to the list so we gained metabonomics and as is ever the case, specialisms within the various original omics quickly emerged: pharmacogenomics, metagenomics, toxicogenomics, psychogenomics, transcriptomics, immunoproteomics, proteogenomics, nutrigenomics and so on. The interfaces between protein activity and the chemical contents of the living cell have become the interactomics, the study of the interactions at the cusp of biology and bioinformatics...

The number of omics seems to grow daily as new niches emerge and new experts appear to fill them. By sheer coincidence as I was musing on this development in science, I noticed a fairly new Twitter hashtag (a keyword on the social microblogging service usually preceded by a # symbol and used to alert the crowd to an ongoing discussion about a given subject whether conference, humorous meme or the latest tour schedule of Canadian pop star Justin Bieber). The new hashtag? Oh, yes:
#badomics. Alerting the twitterati to the plethora of neologisms using or omical suffix.

Self-professed biologist/blogger/prankster, Jonathan Eisen - known on twitter as @phylogenomics highlighted a researcher who was planning to study all of his own omics, his panoromics you might say, with part of that being the autoantibodyome linked to his emerging type II diabetes, apparently. You can see why they've started to talk of #badomics when the suffix multiplies thus. Seemingly, there is now discussion of the environmentome and the exposome, with some wit offering that a paranormalome is likely to come from the non-skeptical crowd some time soon. Those obsessed with their own body metrics might just be hunting the egonome, of course.

Bizarrely, the journal Nature recently published an omics crossword with clues such as 16 Across: The genome’s influence on a patient’s response to drugs and 10 Down: "All the nucleic acids, lipids, proteins, sugars and other molecules in a system", either of which may or may not have been mentioned above. Meanwhile, Occam's Corner, a member of The Guardian's science blog network suggests that the growing love of omics among biologists is nothing more than a love for the irreverent, especially when you learn there is a flynome. The author of that blog claims to have first alerted the world of science to #badomics back in 2002, long before Eisen's #badomics hashtag and long before anyone but the birds tweeted. And, Joshua Lederberg and Alexa T. McCray were asking questions back in 2001 not least why Hans Winkler was credited with kickstarting the omics craze back in 1920 with his word (in German) genom especially given that science already had biome, rhizome, phyllome, thallome and tracheome at the time. But, a quick Google search reveals that The Scientist was also warning of this area of growth in
1995 and I'm sure I mentioned it when I, as a humble chemist, was confused by the coining of the word proteomics back in the day when mapped genomes were but a distant dream. There is, inevitably, an omics Wiki that extols the virtue of the comical little suffix.

So, dear reader, as you're presumably interested more in materials matters than biological badomics, where does the science of stuff fit into this omical world, do we have a polymerome, an alloyome? What about a singlewalledcarbonnanotubeome? Of course, not. But, the bioscientists have already coined metallome to discuss holistically the trace metals found in the body and their interactions with proteins and other biological molecules. Materials scientists need to start coining a few of their own before the biologists have hijacked or squatted on all the prefixes and tied them to their omical suffix. Or maybe not, let's be sensible about all this, this distinguished discipline really doesn't need to be hashtagged with #badomics too, surely...

References!/file/Omicsxword.pdf omics word of the day (The Scientist 15[7]:8, Apr. 2, 2001)

David Bradley blogs at and tweets @sciencebase, he is author of the popular science book "Deceived Wisdom".