ScienceBlogling Sandra Porter asks a bunch of questions, including:
What do you call a biologist who uses bioinformatics tools to do research, but doesn’t program?
My snarky answer is: a biologist.
Since I work at a genome center where I’m up to my eyeballs in computational biologists, bioinformaticists, and computational engineers (this is a good thing), I was going to write a lengthy response, but then I read one of the commenters, who very pithily stated the differences (boldface mine):
computational biology (the specialists, focusing on developing and applying theoretical biology)
bioinformatics (developers/advanced users of informatics tools that “happen” to manipulate biological data but really have little actual biology in them)
biologists (who routinely use bioinformatics tools; I guess you could call these people if that’s what they mainly do)
Obviously, these are, to some extent, strawmen categories, but, as a framework, this is pretty useful. Practically, another difference (today, anyway) is that bioinformaticists often overlap with or grade into computer engineers: they often take tools developed by computational biologists and turn them into production ‘pipelines’: improve the program structure, build out GUIs, and so on.