What Is Bioinformatics?
Bioinformatics is the application of information technology to the study of living things, usually at the molecular level. Bioinformatics involves the use of computers to collect, organize and use biological information to answer questions in fields like evolutionary biology. Continue reading for more information about the applications of bioinformatics.
Over the past decades, the quantity and quality of biological information has skyrocketed, largely because of advances in molecular biology and genomic technology. The Bioinformatics Organization reports that bioinformatics is used to develop databases, like the Human Genome Project, that store, organize and index biological information for analysis.
The value of bioinformatics goes beyond the scientific community. This field allows scientists to create comprehensive databases of biological and health information that can be used to test theories and generate solutions to medical problems that affect us all. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that there are three main scientific applications of bioinformatics. These are described below.
Important Facts About Bioinformatics Programs
|Possible Careers||Bioinformatician, scientific data curator, web developer|
|Online Availability||Courses are available|
|Degree Fields of Study||Systems Biology, Computational Biology, Metagenomics, Proteomics|
|Median Salary (2019)||$87,766 (for biotechnology research scientist)*|
Evolutionary biology looks at the molecules of different organisms and determines whether they share a common evolutionary history. This process has the potential to uncover relationships between life forms never considered before. By using bioinformatics to track this data, evolutionary biologists can gain new insights into the causes of and cures for various diseases.
Proteins have specific functions in our bodies determined by DNA sequences. Using bioinformatic techniques, scientists can test theories about how various proteins interact. These tests may help scientists understand how diseases develop in living organisms.
Genome mapping is another bioinformatic technique used for scientific research. Computerized genomic maps make it easier for scientists to locate genes, and this increased efficiency results in higher productivity and greater scientific advancements. Due to this development in bioinformatics, scientists can spend less time on the painstaking mapping process and more time testing their hypotheses.
How to Study Bioinformatics
Bioinformatics is typically studied at the graduate level. However, some bachelor's degree programs in relevant fields, like bioengineering, computer science, biology and chemistry, offer a specialization in bioinformatics. Master's degree programs in bioinformatics can prepare graduates for applied research or consulting jobs, and PhD graduates can seek a range of research jobs, as well as university-level teaching positions.
Core bioinformatics courses may include molecular biology, probability, statistics, computing and informatics, while advanced courses may cover population genetics, molecular genomic and epigenomic data analysis, biological mathematical modeling, biostatistics, sustainability mathematics and computational neuroscience. Graduate degree programs typically require laboratory work, research, an internship and a thesis or dissertation.