Bad omics word of the day: connectome

Well, I have decided that I need to look beyond just new omic words to snark about here (I have been giving a “Worst New Omics Word Award” every once in a while”). So I am now going to post, as often as I can, a little ditty about any bad omics word that is out there. Yesterday’s winner was “phenogenomics” which I posted only to twitter.

Today’s winner is “connectome” (see for example NIH Launches the Human Connectome Project to Unravel the Brain’s Connections, July 15, 2009 News Release – National Institutes of Health (NIH)). I think it’s first major use was here but not sure. It even has a wikipedia entry which says:

A connectome is a detailed map of the full set of neurons and synapses within the nervous system of an organism. The production and study of such a map is known as connectomics.

Now I am not the first to be a bit annoyed by this word (e.g., see the Neurochannels blog post “Review of Seung’s talk at SFN”:

Incidentally, ‘connectomics’ is a cheesy mouthful of a word. Some words just weren’t meant to be biologized with the -omics suffix, and ‘connect’ is one of them. ‘Genomics,’ cool. ‘Proteomics,’ a little annoying and not very creative. ‘Connectomics,’ stop the bus I want to get off. At the very least let’s reserve the -omics for molecular biology. Thank goodness Bialek didn’t try to pull us into the world of ‘infomics.

Hat tip to Karl Broman for pointing this one out in comments here.

As with posts about other omes and omics words, I am not saying anything really at all about the science behind the word here. Just the word.

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

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